Local linemen head to South Carolina to help restore power

John Thompson • Sep 3, 2019 at 10:00 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Good neighbors remember when another good neighbor helped them in an emergency. Even more important, those good neighbors are eager to return the helping hand when the emergency is on the other side of the fence.

That’s part of the reason work crews from the Elizabethton Electric Department and BrightRidge leave this morning for Conway, South Carolina, to help restore Santee Cooper power lines to enable the Myrtle Beach area to recover its electrical grid from any damage caused by Hurricane Dorian.

Current projections have the center of the hurricane coming close to the Myrtle Beach area on Thursday.

Rob Toney, general manager of the Elizabethton Electric Department, said there is a mutual aid agreement with South Carolina power providers through the Tennessee Valley Authority. But it does not take a legal agreement for many Elizabethton linemen to want to help restore power to hurricane-stricken South Carolina towns.

The Elizabethton linemen have long memories that go back to some bad winter storms in the past 20 years, especially the flood and snowstorm that struck Carter County on separate weeks in January 1998.

There were downed power lines all over Carter County during those storms and there was a big need for experienced linemen to come into the emergency and get the Carter County grid up and running again. Many of the experienced linemen who answered that call were from South Carolina, Toney said.

The crew doesn’t know what will be in store for them when they arrive, ahead of the projected time fro the hurricane to move past the coast on a northward trajectory.

Toney said there’s no way to know how much damage there will be. He said everyone is hoping they won’t have a lot of damage and will return home soon. But Toney said the men are prepared to stay for weeks to get the job done.

The five from Elizabethton who are going are Micheal Jones, Sammy Combs, Chris Mosley, Matthew Taylor and General Foreman David Grindstaff.

In addition to manpower, the Elizabethton Electric Department is also sending bucket trucks and other equipment to Conway.

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