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Two utility crews from Grady County have just returned from Louisiana where they assisted fellow linemen in the scramble to restore electricity to victims of Hurricane Laura.
Grady E.M.C. sent a crew of four who worked two weeks with their peers at Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative in Jennings, Louisiana. The City of Cairo sent a crew of five to work with their counterparts in Winnfield, Louisiana.
“The first part of their stay, the hotel had no electricity and dirty water. They said they missed a clean, hot shower most of all,” reports Rod Prince, energy services director for the City of Cairo.
The crew, John Myrick, Ja’Rod Brooks, Brandon Norris, Justin Norris and Al Thomas, left Saturday, Aug. 29 and returned on Tuesday, Sept. 8, after working 15-hour days, Prince says.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton spotlighted the electric crew during Monday night’s council meeting and he publicly thanked them for their work. According to Addleton, the crew returned “thankful” for the maintenance and condition of our system after having worked on the electric system of Winnfield.
The linemen from Grady E.M.C., Jeremiah Brinson, Tyler Gamble, Robert Hudson and Luke Wells, left on Thursday, Aug. 27, and worked two weeks, returning on Thursday, Sept. 10.
John Long, president and C.E.O. of Grady E.M.C., says, “We learned a lot from Hurricane Michael, most of all the importance of responding quickly with as many resources available as possible. Grady E.M.C. is proud to support the efforts of Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative and grateful that we could be a resource for them.”
The volunteers from Grady E.M.C. were only the second crew to arrive to assist the Louisiana utility, whose system was devastated by Hurricane Laura, according to Adam Starr, marketing and member services director for Grady E.M.C.
Jeremiah Brinson, who served as the crew leader and is the safety manager at Grady E.M.C., reflects on the trip. Brinson says, “I have worked several storms in my career. In fact, ironically, while I was working Hurricane Laura, The Cairo Messenger mentioned me in their “From Years Past” section (on Sept. 2). Fifteen years ago to the day, I was working in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”
Brinson continues, “This storm was different for me. Before, I was young and excited to see the country and witness the damage that Mother Nature can cause to a system. It was exciting to go help other co-ops and have those experiences. Hurricane Michael opened my eyes to the fact that working storms are so much more than restoring power. It is an opportunity to go and restore hope, normalcy, security, and even to show love to our neighbors. That is what the line-workers did for our community in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, and it was my focus as we helped the community in Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative’s service territory.”
As of Monday, only approximately half of Jeff Davis E.M.C.’s 10,500 membership had their power restored, Starr reports. There are still about 400 line-workers still working, he says.