Iowa’s electric cooperatives come together to restore power following unprecedented wind storm
BY ANN THELEN
Iowans are familiar with destructive storms. From tornadoes and flooding to ice storms and blizzards, the Midwest is a mecca for Mother Nature’s fury. However, on Aug. 10, an unprecedented weather event left its destructive impact on Iowa. A derecho – the equivalent of an inland hurricane – became a new household word for Iowans in this monster storm’s path.
Packing winds up to 140 mph, the derecho left more than 500,000 people statewide without power, tore up buildings and severely damaged nearly 14 million acres of corn and soybeans – totaling billions of dollars of damage throughout Iowa.
Immediately after the storm, Iowa’s electric cooperatives reported nearly 60,000 outages within their service territories, with three co-ops reporting 90% of their member-consumers lost power. To restore power as safely and efficiently as possible, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) coordinated mutual aid support for the affected distribution cooperatives, and the response was immediate.
“Because of the cooperative business structure, we were able to quickly deploy crews to areas without power,” says Scott Meinecke, director of safety and loss control for IAEC and coordinator of the cooperatives’ mutual aid effort. “All of Iowa’s electric cooperatives offered mutual aid to those in need. In addition, electric cooperatives from Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin helped with the restoration effort.”
As electric cooperative linemen worked to restore outages, the power of community was on full display. Despite dealing with their own unfortunate situations – including massive debris cleanup efforts and property damage – many co-op members provided meals, well wishes and additional assistance to co-op staff for more than a week.
“Although electric service was restored to most members within a week, the impacts of the storm will last for months and possibly years,” Meinecke adds. “Because many of the repairs were temporary to get power restored as quickly as possible, crews will need to go back and make permanent repairs. Iowa’s electric cooperatives are resilient and will do what they do best – work every day to serve our member-consumers with safe and reliable power.”
Ann Thelen is the editor of Living with Energy in Iowa.
Gov. Reynolds included 27 counties in Iowa’s disaster proclamation
Audubon, Benton, Boone, Cass, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Madison, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama and Washington.