Twelve of the Rural Electric Cooperatives in Iowa are sending two dozen workers south to help restore power to one of the hardest hit areas of Mississippi. The Iowans are going to the Bay St. Louis area, which sits right on the Gulf of Mexico according to Dennis Corcoran, director of safety for the Iowa Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. “They’ll be doing clean-up/restoration work trying to mainly rebuild the power lines and equipment that’s been knocked down by the hurricane,” Corcoran says. The Iowa R-E-C employees will be helping Coast Electric, which has all but five-thousand of its electric meters out of service. “We have this type of restoration services in our ice storms, of course, in Iowa but nothing to this extent where everything’s totally knocked down,” Corcoran says. Lines are down. Poles are down. Transformers are damaged.”They pretty much start from scratch,” Corcoran says. “They’ll have to clear debris to make sure they have adequate clearances for public protection and they will probably, basically, build new line.” Corcoran says the workers have reviewed basic safety proceedures, bought a lot of bug repellent — and they are taking lots of water. “We’ve been advised to take as much bottled water as we can,” Corcoran says. “They have water supplies down there within the camps where they are housing the assisting personnel, but once they’re out there in the areas where they’re doing the restoration, there’s really not much down there.” Some eastern Iowa firefighters have already been to the Bay St. Louis area and back. The fire fighters from Bertram, which is 10 miles east of Cedar Rapids, took three-thousand pounds of search and rescue gear to Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, this past weekend. Firefighter Bob Hosier says it was heart-wrenching, but they feel good about donating the equipment and their time to their fellow firefighters on the Mississippi coast. “They’d lost everything,” Hosier says. “Basically, what they had was the clothes on their back.” The firefighters are now participating a local effort to collect supplies for the area they visited. The firefighters say folks in the region desperately need charcoal and camp stoves in order to cook their food since the power is out.
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