Mutual aid crews flooded ice storm-damaged Duck River Electric Membership Corp. service territory Tuesday as efforts doubled down to restore power to homes, farms and businesses in Moore, Marshall, Bedford and Coffee counties.
Early Tuesday morning, power outages affected more than 13,000 co-op members, but DREMC crews whittled the total number down to 5,643 by mid-afternoon. It is hoped more boots on the ground will help turn the corner toward full power restoration.
Officials said some co-op members might not be reconnected until Wednesday or Thursday. Due to below-zero temperatures forecasted for the evening and early morning hours of Feb. 18-19, DREMC urges those still affected by outages to take steps to protect themselves and their families from potentially dangerous conditions. Shelters have opened in Shelbyville, Manchester and Lewisburg. Go to www.dremc.com to learn more.
Nine outside crews with their bucket trucks and equipment rallied to help DREMC. They came from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, South Pittsburg; Tri-County EMC, Lafayette; Middle Tennessee EMC, Murfreesboro; Shelbyville Power; and Fayetteville Public Utilities. Crews from Alabama are scene include those from Joe Wheeler EMC and Black Warrior Electric Cooperative. Contractor crews round out those assisting local linemen.
“The help is much appreciated,” said DREMC President and CEO Michael Watson. “One of the Seven Cooperative Principles is: ‘Cooperatives helping Cooperatives.’ This is never truer than when a natural disaster hits.”
Extra manpower will make a difference in sorting out and repairing the infrastructure damaged by the ice storm, especially from south of Lewisburg through the Shelbyville area and into northern Coffee County. This was where the impact of trees, branches and limbs in power lines was greatest.
Icy roads were among the challenges linemen faced as freezing rain began to cause serious problems with the power delivery system. Roads steadily improved on Tuesday as sunshine began to melt the frozen coating.
Boynton Valley substation near Manchester was a related crisis that DREMC had not expected. One of TVA’s 161-kV steel transmission poles crumpled under the weight of ice-coated lines and fell on the substation’s tap. DREMC was able to back-feed some of the area served by Boynton. In the meantime, TVA was sending a replacement pole from Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Many DREMC members called repeatedly to report their power outages and check on time of restoral. It is only necessary to make one outage call. The information is appended to the account and entered in the Outage Management System. Also, the co-op cannot guarantee when service will resume in a particular area.
“We’ve made progress and turned a lot of folks back on since the ice storm hit,” said Watson. “The patience and support of our membership is appreciated, especially by the men and woman working in such difficult conditions.”