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Power restoration effort continues for Santee Electric line workers

Article was added on Sunday, October 16, 2016

water on road

Santee Electric Cooperative line workers and hundreds more from other cooperatives are making steady progress restoring outages following Hurricane Matthew and severe flooding that followed it. More repair crews arrived in the service area yesterday to assist in the efforts.

"As we predicted, the repair work has stretched into the weekend," said CEO Rob Ardis. "We're definitely in the slowest part of the job. Almost all of the remaining outages are in areas most severely affected by the storm or most difficult to reach. Flooding is still a very real problem."

The cooperative's 2,005-square-mile service area is the largest of any electric cooperative east of the Mississippi River. More than 5,500 miles of power line stretch across the territory, often through farm fields, woods and swamps. Stretched into single line, the system would reach California and back.

"It's a tribute to the men and women of that cooperative that they have provided electricity to so many who would not have had it except for a member-owned, not-for-profit organization," said Mike Couick, CEO of the state association of electric cooperatives. "But the large, less densely populated area requires massive infrastructure to get the power to members. Five thousand miles of line were exposed to Matthew, and the hurricane took full advantage of that exposure."

"I know of several co-op employees who don't have power," Ardis said. "They are as anxious as any other member to have the power back on. We won't stop until we finish the job."

Member frustration is understandable, said Community Relations Manager Adrel Langley. "We understand members have questions about their specific neighborhood or address, but we can't pinpoint exactly when everyone will be back on. There are too many variables with each area or individual location that's still off. We can only keep working and ask members' for patience." 


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