AR Electric Cooperative crews helping restore power after Hurricane Irma
The cleanup of Hurricane Irma's aftermath is just getting started. Currently, 174 Arkansas Electric Cooperative linemen are spread out through Florida, South Carolina and Georgia helping millions of customers who lost power from the storms.
Rob Roedel, a spokesman for the co-op, tells KATV some of the biggest challenges include trimming trees and removing debris to install all new power lines.
Since being out in Florida, Roedel says they’ve been able to help local crews restore power to nearly half a million customers.
"They'll get the main lines back on in the homes close to the lines and the substations will come back on quickly. The time that gets tedious is the time when you have to go a mile or half a mile to get to one home and restore service,” said Roedel.
KATV attempted to speak with linemen in Florida, but cell service was down in those areas. Instead, Alex Wright, a lineman out of Texarkana and currently in South Carolina, says it's long 16-hour days for at least the next two weeks.
“The poles have been stripped, no arms. We had to totally re-frame most of every pole that we came across,” said Wright.
Wright added, while they did volunteer for the job, it's opportunities like this one linemen fight to be part of.
“We like to help people and get the power back on as soon as we can for all of these families who have lost their groceries, things like that,” said Wright.
“Sometimes people don't realize how upsetting it could be to see people whose lives have been ruined by a natural disaster. Their homes have been destroyed. Everything they've got has been lost. Sometimes it puts a perspective on things about how important certain things are,” added Roedel.
Once crews finish in South Carolina, they'll be headed to Georgia to assist their local electric co-op.