Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Operation: Feed the Lineman" ~ Boone Electric Co-op Community

February 27, 2013 ~ We had been hit with another massive round of snow/ice in the Boone County area on Monday night which left many people without power and was widespread. The entire Boone Electric crew worked hard and even called in help to get power restored quickly as possible. By Wednesday morning we still had a lot of people without power and around 7:40 am I received a private message from a long time friend and fellow Midway resident, Sara Potterfield. She encouraged me to be the "spearhead" and help coordinate food for the linemen that have been working around the clock to restore power to nearly 2,800 Boone Electric members that were currently still without power. After reading this from her I took it very seriously and thought this is exactly what we needed to do for our community. I made a phone call to Boone Electric and verified this would be ok and by 9:00 am I had posted the following on my personal Facebook page and Boone Electric Facebook page: 
Good morning everyone! After receiving a private message from a friend and fellow member of Midway, I have decided to help a company that is working hard to help so many of us! I am asking all of you that want to help out please share with your friends.

As you know with the recent snow storm many are without power still today. The men and women at Boone Electric have been working around the clock to restore power. As you will see from their Facebook post below, they have had to call in additional help from other communities. I will be spearheading the efforts to get these guys dinner tonight as well as lunch and dinner tomorrow night. I will be the "go-to person" in charge of getting food and people to help out. So I am asking for anyone that would like to make baked goods, salads, donate water/soda, chips, snacks and/or any thing else they may need. I am working on getting dinner tonight for 100 people from 4-6:30 pm and would love to have any additional help if you are available. They are working hard to take care of us and it's the least we can do to show our support to the staff of Boone Electric. If you are able to help please send me a private message or post on here and I will give you the details!

From Boone Electric's Facebook Page this morning:
Boone Electric Cooperative line crews worked through the night Tuesday, February 26, to restore power to thousands of members. At the peak of the outages, more than 14,000 Cooperative members were without power. As of 8 a.m., approximately 5,500 members were still without power. These outages are scattered in 390 different locations throughout the Cooperative’s service area.
This morning, Boone Electric crews were joined by 16 linemen from Missouri’s Mutual Aid program. Intercounty Electric Cooperative (Licking, MO), Lewis County Electric Cooperative (Lewiston, MO) and Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative (West Plains, MO) answered the Cooperative’s request for assistance. Additionally, a four-person crew from KIOWA Line Builders arrived to assist in the restoration effort. Four Columbia Water & Light linemen are also assisting the Cooperative with outages here in Columbia. Line crews will continue to work in shifts until all power is restored.

This simple post of asking for help from anyone willing turned into an amazing thing in our community. You saw people come together for one purpose... to help one another. The phone calls, text messages, private messages, e-mails and Facebook posts were pouring in. I was getting people showing up at our shop with cash donations of $400 in total. I was focused and knew we had to keep things under control and get a game plan in motion so that I could let others know where we needed help. I knew that we would be feeding 100+ men and women that were employed by Boone Electric plus the additional help from other areas. I wanted to make sure they had a hot meal as they were working long hours in the cold and eating a cold sandwich. I made a phone call to Josh Spicer, a good friend and owner of Don's Family Style Restuarant in Huntsville, MO. He was able to give me a discount on the meal for this evening and I would drive to Huntsville, MO around 3:30 pm to pick up the food. When I got to Boone Electric I was greeted with some amazing volunteers ready to help and bearing goodies from cookies, soda/water/tea, fruit, chips, beef jerky, etc.

A special thank you to Marsue Crews, Crystal and Layla Umfress, Mary Lamar
Teresa Carlos, Dina and Holly Wegner
(There were many volunteers behind the scenes and I
will try to name each of them but you are not forgotten!)

They were very thankful for the warm home style meal!
Thank you Don's Family Style Resturant in Huntsville, MO
for the discount on the fried chicken, green beans, 
mashed potatoes/gravy, rolls and blackberry and cherry cobblers! 

They all came in shifts and were very appreciative! 

So after an amazing evening of a generous outpouring community members our hearts were full! It was so nice to see everyone work hard for these guys/gals but we weren't done yet! We had committed to help feed everyone Thursday for lunch and dinner with the hopes that they would have power restored and everyone "hopefully" could get back to normal.

For lunch on Thursday, Mary Lamar contacted Kirk Wacker, a good friend and owner of The Sub Shop. He was willing to give us a discount on hot sandwhichs for the Boone Electric crew. We had also asked anyone that could to bring something in a crock pot such as soups, chili, chicken and dumplin's, etc. It was nice for everyone to have some options on what to eat and it went over well. We didn't have as many come in and eat because they were working as long as they could in the field with daylight but we understood. Boone Electric staff members would run leftovers out to the guys when they could.

For dinner on Thursday night we wanted to do something simple and thought good ol' Shakespeare's Pizza might be the easiest. I called Kurt Mirtsching, who is an all around fun guy, and he also gave us a discount on pizza's for the crew! We had 32 pizzas of all different types to keep the guys going. Luckily by this time they were down to a very small number of people without power. 

Bottom line is.... When a community needs help it's members stand up and work together. Our community and community members is something I am very proud of. For people to set their own lives to the side and jump in to help others makes me so happy and what was really cool is to see members of our community who aren't even Boone Electric customers jump in and help is truly amazing. If you don't believe in the power of social media then you should now.... this is how this all came to be a successful turn of events that happened over a couple days.

This is a public note that was sent out via Boone Electric's Facebook page on March 1, 2013: 

A message from BEC General Manager & CEO Todd Culley:

"First and foremost, let me say "thank you" to each and every employee for putting their personal lives on hold during the unprecedented snow storm this week. From the employees answering phones, to those coordinating media releases, providing eating, sleeping and scheduling services, acting as 'bird dogs' for our out-of-town helpers, providing engineering support services, and our line crews trudging through the mud and snow, I have never witnessed such cooperation and willingness to step outside normal job duties to get the power back on as quickly and safely as possible for our members.

I also want to say thank you to our utility friends at Columbia Water & Light, Intercounty, Howell-Oregon, Lewis County, and Consolidated electric cooperatives; and let's not forget KIOWA Line Builders Inc…their assistance was an integral part of our restoration progress.

At one point, we had nearly 50% of our membership without power. It is too early to disseminate exact details, but we do know at this point that this storm caused more total outage hours in just three days than the Cooperative has experienced in at least the past three years combined. Per our linemen and operations and engineering personnel, had it not been for our enhanced right-of-way maintenance over the last several years, this storm would have very likely impacted as much as 90% of our membership (and for a much longer duration). As it stands now, we know of only 10 broken poles from the storm……and we have more than 46,000 total!!

Prior to this storm, I can't say I was 'sold' on Facebook. You, our members, have convinced me otherwise. The outpouring of support was unexpected, extremely appreciated and will become one of the best memories for myself and many employees. Having a community-based impromptu group form on Facebook for the sole purpose of feeding our employees will never be forgotten. I can't thank them enough for showing up with hot food to feed everyone during our 'pit stops' on Wednesday evening and again on Thursday afternoon and evening.

I was also amazed to see people dropping off both homemade and prepared snacks at our front desk -- some of whom were not even members of the Cooperative. These acts of 'paying it forward' lifted spirits and gave our employees extra strength and encouragement to continue tackling the effects of the storm.

It will be difficult to thank each and every one of you who offered support, kind words, and food. Please accept my sincere appreciation on behalf of not only our employees, but also our Board of Directors. It was good to see everyone personally committed to serving our membership. I have said it before, and I will say it again, it is an honor to serve you."

And last but certainly not least.....

A very special thank you to the follow people that made this all possible:
(These are in no certain order and please let me know if I have forgotten anyone)

Andrea Jira, Dina Charlton, Beth & Jack Stubbs, Crystal & Layla Umfress, Lottie Creasy, Merk Williams, Brenda Potterfield, Sara Potterfield, Mary Lamar, Teresa Carlos, Marsue Crews, Lori & Nicholas Hauxwell, Anne Williams, Tanya Alberty, Holly Wegener, Nancy Langworthy, Harry Feirman, Richard Simpson, Doug Fifer, Kathy Rupert, Steve Turner, Martina Pounds and Prenger's Grocery. 

These men and women donated items from plates, napkins, plastic ware, baked goods, tea/soda/water, fresh fruit, snacks for the guys to put in their trucks, veggie trays and much much more! Thank you!

A special thank you to the following businesses for discounts to feed these guys/gals:

Don's Family Style Restaurant
315 Highway JJ
Huntsville, MO 65259

Sub Shop- Parkade Plaza
601 W Business Loop 70
Suite 203
Columbia, MO 65202

Shakespeare's Pizza
225 S. Ninth Street
Columbia, MO 65201

Pay It Forward: 
A random act of kindness towards another human being with no expectation of return on investment.

Thank you again to everyone that made this possible. I can't tell you how many kind words I have received from so many for this day. I will never take full credit for any of this because it was a team effort. We did an amazing thing for our community and I would do it all over again if it was needed.... we didn't do it for the recognition, we did it for the men and women that were working around the clock to restore power to our community. Great job team! I am proud of each and every one of you! {insert high five here}

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again for helping us get through a stressful time a little easier. we all feel blessed -- Jim R.