The finish line is in sight, and I think most of us are ready to put 2020 behind us. But before we dismiss this year, we have the chance to finish on a high note and carry some positive momentum into 2021 as we celebrate this holiday season.
In a year when so many things that we take for granted have been taken away from us, I find myself approaching this Thanksgiving with a greater appreciation for normalcy. I’m thankful for safe schools for our children. Worshiping together at church. Quality time with family and friends (the 18 months since I last visited my parents in Texas is the longest I’ve gone without visiting them; I’m very thankful for technology that allows us to have video conference calls every week). Eating at a restaurant. Going to the movies. Watching sports.
On top of all the COVID craziness we’ve lived through this year, hurricane season was busier than usual. Thousands of Gulf Coast residents have gone days or weeks without power, and in many cases it could have taken months to make all of the necessary repairs.
But thankfully, there are electrical linemen.
I’m thankful that linemen are willing to pack their gear, leave their families and the comfort of their own homes to use their skills to help people in a desperate situation. That was the case in August when Hurricane Laura made landfall as a category 4 storm near Lake Charles, La. As the eye moved inland, the community of DeRitter, La, took a direct hit. Over the next several weeks, Cullman Electric Cooperative linemen joined an army of more than 1,200 linemen that helped Beauregard Electric Cooperative restore power to its 39,000 members.
Two weeks later, Hurricane Sally came roaring ashore near Gulf Shores, leaving 78,000 Baldwin EMC members out of power. Again, linemen from Cullman Electric headed into harm’s way to help.
They go knowing it will be rough. No power in the deep south in September means there is no guarantee of air-conditioned sleep, warm showers or even a hot meal after a long day of work.
They go to help their lineman brothers. They may not know each other, but they know how hard and dangerous the job can be, especially after a natural disaster, so they are quick to answer the call for help.
They go because they know that getting power restored is one of the most important steps in helping a community start the recovery and rebuilding process.
They go because they know a day will come when Cullman Electric Cooperative — their home, and family and friends — will need help, and their lineman brothers in other states will be here to help us.
I’m also thankful for people like Laura Mitchell, Hubert and Cole Dunbar and the rest of the crew at the Styx River Volunteer Fire Department. Located just a few minutes off Interstate 10, you probably won’t pass through here on your way to the best unless you’re lost, but the people in this Baldwin County community treated our linemen like family. The firemen helped clear roads and control traffic while our crews repaired the power lines. Laura’s family and friends prepared dinner each night, including a shrimp boil, grilled steaks and, “the best homemade spaghetti I ever ate,” according to one lineman.
Yes, it has been a crazy year, but we still have a lot to be thankful for.
Written by Brian Lacy, Manager of Communications and External Affairs