“Co-ops helping co-ops. That’s how things work in rural America.” Brandy C. Silk commented on Northfork Electric Cooperative’s Facebook post announcing the arrival of Victory Electric crews.
Following an early-season ice storm on Oct. 25, more than 76,000 co-op members in Oklahoma were left without power. A mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and gusty winds battered the state and took down power lines and trees, mainly in the state’s western and central regions.
Victory Electric sent crews to assist in restoration efforts at Northfork Electric Cooperative in Sayre, Oklahoma, and CKenergy Electric Cooperative in Binger, Oklahoma. Other crews from 16 co-ops based in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, also sent crews to the area as part of the national cooperative mutual assistance program.
“This is part of what we do as a cooperative,” said Ryan Miller, Victory Electric vice president of operations. “Victory Electric has been in the same situation where we needed assistance, and others answered the call. We are more than willing to return the favor when we can.”
The crews included Austin Gooder, Chantz Brungardt, Chris Konrade, Clayton Stein, Colton Lee, Jacob Ledford, Jeff Martinez, Jeremy Elling, Jesus Ruiz, Justin Straight, Kade Henry, Kevin Freeman, Kirk Konrade, Kody Stockton, Marlon Hernandez, Pat Deaver, Tanner Gemaehlich and Ted McAtee.
Members of CKenergy, Jerry and Mary Jahn of Cyril, Oklahoma, sent Victory Electric a message of appreciation. “Please share our thanks with your guys who came in like the cavalry and saved the day ... well it was the fourteenth day but we were happy to have electricity in our pumpkin patch!”
Officials at Oklahoma’s Electric Cooperatives said at least 13 distribution co-ops were impacted by the storm, suffering damages estimated to be in the multimillion-dollar range.
“Ice storms create havoc in our industry, and no one expected a storm of this magnitude this early in the fall season,” said Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s General Manager Chris Meyers. “We appreciate all linemen who left the comfort of their homes to assist the hardest-hit electric cooperatives in adverse conditions. Their commitment to helping others truly underscores the strength of the cooperative spirit.