It’s not an easy job. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics repeatedly ranks lineworker in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the nation. In 2008, 30 out of every 100,000 line workers died on the job, an employment mortality rate higher than police officer and firefighter.
On a daily basis, Horry Electric’s line crews risk their lives by handling powerlines coursing with enough energy to turn sand into glass just so the lights come on when a switch is flipped. Their skills are really put to the test when repairs have to be made to the system after a major storm.
“Hurricane Irene wasn’t too bad on the Horry Electric system, so we had repairs made and everything back up and running by late afternoon on Saturday, August 27,” says W.I. Jones, manager of operations for Horry Electric Cooperative, adding that electric cooperatives further up the coast in North Carolina and Virginia weren’t so lucky.
“We released two crews to Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in Warsaw, Virginia early Monday morning,” says Jones. “They were in a world of trouble with 15,000 of their 18,000 members still without power that Sunday evening.”
The relief crew, which included Jeremy Ammons, Chris Grainger, William Lambert, Steve Johnson, Kelly Jordan, John Martin, Mitchell Benton, Kelly Dix, Matt Savage, Landon King and Carluss King, reported for duty in Virginia on Monday and worked alongside crews from Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, as well as linemen from electric cooperatives in Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee and Georgia until power was fully restored early the following Saturday. “Access to repair the system was a big issue with trees and debris impeding the progress of the work,” says Mitchell Benton, distribution engineer for Horry Electric. “Progress was slow, but everyone was very patient and understanding.”
“The crews made it back home safely late Saturday afternoon,” says Jones. “We’re glad to have them home and we’re all very proud of them, as well as their families, for making the sacrifices they made to go help out another co-op and their members last week.”