A commitment to service!
By Wayne Mattox
The challenges many Clay Electric field personnel have faced in recent days as they go about repairing the co-op’s damaged distribution system have been wide and varied. One of the most unusual efforts involved Clay Electric meter reader Anthony Saunders and lineman Troy Adams of the co-op’s Lake City District. Saunders was assigned to help Adams, and they had been joined by a crew from an Alabama electric co-op, who had come over to lend a hand.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, the men were assigned to rebuild a tap line along County Road 18 east of Fort White in Columbia County, which ran a quarter-mile through a forest to a home.
At any other time, the project would have been routine. Cut several trees off the line, splice the broken ends together, retighten the conductor, and the member is back in service.
But Hurricane Frances had dumped 15 to 18 inches of rain in the region, and the men would have to attempt repairs in floodwaters that were deeper than they expected.
The men from Alabama tackled the removal of several fallen trees which had broken the conductor. Working in waist-deep water, they used chainsaws to cut the trees off the line.
Meanwhile, lineman Adams grabbed a hoist and other gear and waded in. The bottom quickly dropped off and he was forced to begin swimming for a power pole 80 feet away. Adams reached the pole, wrapped his climbing belt around it, and dug in his climbing hooks. For an hour, Adams would remain near the top of the pole making repairs as Saunders and the men from Alabama assisted from below.
Wise cracks about alligators and poisonous snakes were in abundance as the men navigated their way through the dark-stained water.
With the project complete, the men gathered near their vehicles. They tried to dry off the best they could, but their clothes would remain damp until they got home, around 11 p.m. They would be back at the district office at 5:30 the next morning, ready to resume rebuilding what Hurricane Frances had torn down.
“We stayed wet most all the time because of the high water and rain that fell after the storm passed,” Saunders. “All of us suffered with ant bites because the high water had the ants climbing up on twigs and stems to stay dry. We’d walk through these areas and end up with ants all over us. We had ant bites everywhere.”
According to Saunders, many of his fellow employees experienced power outages at their homes. Their families had to cope with no refrigeration, no air conditioning, no TV and no running water.
“A number of the employees were out of power until the middle of the week. They were in the same boat as our customers,” he said.
Saunders said nearly everywhere they stopped to work, they’d be approached by someone wanting to know when the power would be back on.
“Nearly everyone we talked with expressed understanding of the amount of damage done to our system, and they were real patient,” he said
Been there done that. It's your job and thats where the work is. Whatever it takes baby, what ever it takes.