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Co-ops at Work

Hurricane Harvey

Disaster prompts generosity and ingenuity

In true Cooperative spirit, folks in Virginia and Louisiana sent emergency supplies to Texas co-ops after Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, based in Chase City, Virginia, sent an 18-wheeler packed with hundreds of items, including water, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and handwritten messages of faith and encouragement 1,300 miles to Victoria EC.

“Cooperation Among Cooperatives is the sixth founding cooperative principle on which we operate, and I cannot think of a finer example of seeing this principle put into action,” said Blaine Warzecha, general manager of Victoria EC.

Employees from Dixie Electric Membership Corporation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sent cleaning supplies, paper goods, diapers, water and $100 gift cards to Sam Houston EC. Center of Hope, a charitable organization sponsored by churches in the Livingston area, distributed the relief supplies. Employees at Dixie Electric, who experienced major flooding in 2016, wanted to return the favor after they received financial help from Sam Houston EC employees during that crisis.

Hurricane Harvey created a rush on gas stations around Texas in the days after the storm pounded the state. The gas shortage, fueled in part by social media, created lines 10 cars deep, causing concern at CoServ, which needed to keep its fleet of vehicles rolling.

So the co-op set up a fuel tanker at its main office in Corinth and bought 3,600 gallons of diesel and 3,200 gallons of unleaded, which kept its vehicles on the road and out of lines.

“People may have panicked because of social media, but CoServ didn’t,” said Randy Hall, CoServ’s director of job training and safety.