DREMC crew facing Sandy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Duck River Electric Membership Corp. linemen and a supervisor from this area went to the Atlantic coast Sunday so they could restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"They were told to be prepared for a week, but we don't know if that means five or seven working days," said Freda Terry, wife of Timmy Terry, DREMC's district manager for Lewisburg. "They're supposed to be there Tuesday for when the storm hits, and then the aftermath," she said Monday.

The crew left at 8 a.m. Sunday, bound for Rappahannock Electric Co-op, headquartered in Fredericksburg, Va.

"Once again, he's out fixing other people's lights and we're fending for ourselves, but I've got people helping me," the manager's wife said, counting her blessings as friends feed their cows and help other ways.

DREMC Member Services Director Brad Gibson named co-op volunteers working in Terry's crew as linemen Brian Seals of Lewisburg and David Ladner of Decherd, Chad Anderson of Shelbyville and foreman Joel Potts of Columbia.

They were unavailable Monday, but DREMC operations supervisor Jeff Hockaday went to Volunteer Electric in Hickman and Hamilton counties earlier this year when that co-op's customers faced outages.

"It's always a good feeling because you're helping people out," Hockaday said. "You're getting people's lights on."

Volunteers are drawn from several offices so no South Central Tennessee customer is left without a repair crew.

Meanwhile, Tennessee has windy weather because of Sandy, and Gibson reported Terry's crew might be redeployed from the area named for the Rappahannock River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

"It's a huge storm," Gibson said of Sandy.

The hurricane forced evacuations from Maryland to Maine.

"A lot of time it's not the direct hit of the storm," Gibson said. "It could be from high winds. Areas with lower population density might be out for a longer period of time.

"Crews could be dispatched to other areas if they continue to be available," Gibson said. "They might be redeployed to another rural electric co-operative system."

Crews dispatched from this area returned from other storms with stories about life in other parts of the country.

"He went to Hurricane Hugo when it hit South Carolina," Freda Terry said of her husband. "That was his first experience with fire ants. Some others went to Katrina and experienced mosquitoes," which are bigger in Louisiana.

It's been a way of life for the Terry family before Timmy and Freda married, she said: "In 1974 when he graduated from high school, I was huddled in the hall with parents and brother because of the tornado that hit in April 1974." Timmy had just graduated and was repairing power lines that day.

Meanwhile, Mid-Atlantic states' power companies were bracing for Hurricane Sandy, described by the Associated Press as a "freakish, unprecedented monster."

Edison Electric Institute spokesman Keith Voight said crews and equipment were being brought in from other utilities as far away as New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma to help with expected power restoration efforts.