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Neighbors helping neighbors

Chris Meyers

August 2019

The months of May and June brought unprecedented amounts of rainfall to parts of northeastern and eastern Oklahoma. And, along with those record rains, severe storms, tornadoes and extensive flooding caused considerable damage to electric cooperative systems in those areas as well.

Now it’s hurricane season in the southeastern United States, and neighboring states like Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi have already been hit by Hurricane Barry, which came ashore in south-central Louisiana on July 13. When extreme storms or disasters impact the delivery of electric service by electric co-ops to their member-consumers, a response process with its roots in the Seven Cooperative Principles is kicked into high gear. Such was the case in May, June and July, when line crews from several electric cooperatives in Oklahoma responded to calls for assistance both in and out of state.

Providing mutual aid assistance is nothing new for electric cooperatives. When severe storms and flooding recently impacted co-ops located in northeastern, eastern and south-central parts of the state, crews from sister co-ops in central, western and northern Oklahoma, plus the panhandle, responded immediately with much-needed mutual aid. And, when co-ops in Louisiana asked for help ahead of Hurricane Barry’s landfall, 35 linemen from six electric co-ops in Oklahoma packed their gear and headed that way.

These actions are a part of the sixth and seventh Cooperative Principles: Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and Concern for Community. By working together through local, national, regional, even international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs—especially in times of disaster.

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by their member-owner-consumers. Mutual aid and disaster assistance in times of need are prime examples of what co-ops do best: cooperatively respond to the benefit of their members and the communities they serve.