HUGHESVILLE, Md. – On October 2, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) employees drove to southwest Florida to assist in restoration efforts following a devastating blow from Hurricane Ian.
Five experienced SMECO foremen and former linemen volunteered to join more than 1,000 workers from multiple states to help hard-hit Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) rebuild their system and restore electric service.
According to LCEC’s website, more than 90 percent of the cooperative’s customers were without power following the storm on Sept. 28.
LCEC serves the areas around Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, which faced the brunt of the storm as it made landfall last week.
“This unprecedented recovery requires a substantial rebuild in the hardest hit communities,” said Denise Vidal, LCEC CEO.
As of 6 a.m. on October 4, 59 percent of LCEC customers were still without power. Flooding and widespread destruction are making it difficult for workers to access many of the areas impacted by the storm.
Supply chain issues add an additional layer of difficulty to restoring service. SMECO’s experienced team of volunteers includes foremen and former linemen who are able to help identify salvageable materials in the field.
“I am very grateful to be a part of the cooperative community and step in to help our neighbors in need,” said Sonja Cox, SMECO President and CEO. “Being part of a co-op means we’re all in this together and we provide assistance and support to each other when we’re able.”