CHELCO crews assist Southwest Florida co-ops
DeFuniak Springs (Oct. 18, 2022) – Following Hurricane Ian’s destruction in the Fort Myers area, CHELCO sent 22 linemen to assist co-ops in mutual aid restoration efforts.
CHELCO’s initial crew of 13 linemen traveled to Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO) in Wauchula, Florida, which lost 88% of its electric system due to fallen wires, damaged poles and severe flooding. After 500 lineworkers from eight states worked for two weeks, PRECO’s system was fully restored as of Oct. 14.
The crew then moved to Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) in North Fort Myers, which faced a near-total loss of its system. CHELCO deployed nine additional linemen to assist in their restoration efforts. As of Oct. 18, LCEC’s system is 95% restored, and all CHELCO crews have returned safely home.
In addition to sending line crews to assist, CHELCO donated to a disaster relief fund to help employees of co-ops impacted by Hurricane Ian.
“Mutual aid is a critically important part of being an electric cooperative,” CHELCO CEO Steve Rhodes said. “In fact, ‘Cooperation Among Cooperatives’ is one of the seven guiding principles that all cooperative models follow. We know that the co-ops affected by Hurricane Ian would just as willingly send their own crews to help us restore power if the situations were reversed. I’m proud of our crews for working safely to restore power to thousands of people they will probably never meet. We all continue to pray for their safety and the communities so tragically impacted by this storm.”
CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 60,000 accounts in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.