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Co-ops at Work

Heeding Harvey’s Call

Co-ops rush from all corners of the state to help coastal and East Texas co-ops hit hard by storm

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall August 25, Co-op Country took the brunt of the most powerful storm to strike the state in decades. First 130 mph winds ravaged the Coastal Bend; then the Category 4 storm dumped unprecedented rainfall on areas inland. Both wreaked havoc on property, people and power lines.

Texas’ electric cooperatives rallied. They sent crews and supplies from all corners of the state to restore power and help those in need. These numbers illustrate the swift and massive response:

179,016 co-op meters lost power due to the storm. About 97 percent were back online 10 days later. Hurricane Ike took out some 300,000 co-op meters in 2008.

300 outside lineworkers were housed and fed by Victoria EC, which lost power to its entire system during the storm. Many worked stretches of 13 hours or more in the wind, rain and mud. “I can’t say enough about the support that we’ve received from people all across the state—without hesitation, willing to leave their families to come restore power to our members,” said Blaine Warzecha, VEC general manager. “That is truly touching.”

About one-third of Texas’ 67 distribution electric cooperatives sent crews to help with restoration efforts needed at the 15 Texas co-ops affected by the storm. Crews from the Panhandle and North and West Texas traveled hundreds of miles to assist.

$75 billion in total losses due to the storm, including property damage, lost wages and disrupted business—mostly due to hard-hit Houston—make it one of the most expensive in history, according to Moody’s Analytics. More than 70 deaths are attributed to Harvey.