April 29th will be a day folks in Henderson and Van Zandt counties will remember forever with multiple tornados ripping across our communities. From all of us here at TVEC, words cannot express our sorrow for the loss of life along with the devastation and destruction that many of our TVEC members experienced, as well as those served by other neighboring utilities.
When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, there are many well-trained people who spring in to action. A big THANK YOU is due to the many first responders and law enforcement personnel whose actions saved lives and provided assistance to those in dire need.
I also want to take this opportunity to mention some other people whose talents and skills were so greatly exemplified during this very difficult time. I am so proud of all my coworkers here at TVEC. Their response to the aftermath of these tornados was one of urgency, but not panic.
Here at TVEC we have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) that serves as a guide and blueprint for how, and what everyone is required to do in the event of a disaster. When management activated the DRP on Saturday night, personnel from every single department kicked into high gear.
The first thing on the list was to assess the damage, and it did not take long to see that this may have been the worst damage to the cooperative’s system in its history. Not only were there miles of distribution lines torn down, but large transmission structures that supply power to our substations were ripped apart.
Just hours later on Sunday morning, utility contractors from across the state began arriving to get to work rebuilding lines and restoring power to the communities who suffered so much. Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative from Van Alstyne, TX was on site bright and early on Sunday to assist in any way needed. Other electric cooperatives across the state called and offered assistance as well. We are very grateful to our fellow cooperatives because one of the Seven Cooperative Principles we operate under is “Cooperation Among Cooperatives”.
Also on Sunday, our statewide association, Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) began delivering poles, materials and equipment to replace what had been broken and damaged.
When this kind of disaster upends lives of our members, our goal here at TVEC is to get everything back to normal as quickly as possible by restoring power. I know that for some, a new normal will have been forever altered by the loss of loved ones, the loss of property and even a loss of peace of mind.
There are so many people and organizations to thank for their hard work and assistance in restoring power to the TVEC members. At some point, we will recognize those companies individually so the cooperative membership will know who they are.
In closing, the patience and words of encouragement to the TVEC employees by members of the cooperative during this very difficult time meant more than you will ever know. Employees of TVEC clearly know the purpose and business model of an electric cooperative. In the co-op world, we don’t have customers, we have member-owners. This is your cooperative, and we are simply the caretakers of your business.