NIXA, Mo.– Several agencies in the Ozarks got the call for help following Hurricane Ida. Some were able to make it, while others are helping in other ways.
Of all the terrible devastation, one thing that stands out is the mess Ida made of the power grid.
Ethan Forhetz, National Spokesperson, Convoy of Hope, stated, “When you look around and the web of power lines and I, as a layman, look around and think, ‘I don’t know how you are going to do this…I don’t even know where they are going to start.”
Nixa Utilities sent four line workers down south to get the lights back on following the hurricane, which struck the Gulf Coast as it was experiencing a heatwave.
Warren Brooks, Director of Electric Transmission and Distribution at City Utilities of Springfield, explained,
“It seems overwhelming and insurmountable.”
Observers say most of it will have to be rebuilt from scratch. The task is something City Utilities of Springfield knows how to do following the 2007 ice storm and 2011 Joplin tornado.
However, CU isn’t able to send anyone this time.
Brook said, “We couldn’t afford to send our own folks because we don’t have anybody to pick up the slack, if you will, if our folks left.” He added, “Taking care of our own community definitely has to come first.”
CU is instead helping indirectly. The utility company currently depends on the help of contractors to take care of the system. Those workers have been released to go help in the Gulf states.
“When we don’t have that option to call in contractors, our guys carry that burden even more heavily, because not only do they have a construction schedule to keep up with, any kind of damage that goes on they have got to respond to those emergencies. So, it is the same amount of work spread among fewer people when all of those other folks have left town, Brook said”
Workers, and maybe even materials, may be stretched thin in the coming weeks. Experts say there was already a nationwide shortage of items such as poles and transformers. These items are now in even greater demand for the rebuilding efforts.
“We are all sort of supporting the effort,” Brooks said. “It may just not look that way if you don’t see our trucks rolling out of town. but, it ends up stressing everyone in the industry to some degree or another.”