SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (KTRE) - Hurricane Laura knocked out power for thousands in the Piney Woods. Local and statewide electric crews went to work to try to restore it.
“It’s trying on you. It is, but it’s good,” said Clayton Bennefield, a lineman with Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative. “I’ve been doing it for 22 years. It’s just what we do.”
Something else he and his coworkers have been doing — enduring long work days.
“I get up about 4:30 in the morning and get home about 11 at night,” Bennefield said.
And that’s because they are trying to restore power after Hurricane Laura.
“Picking up lines [and] cutting trees off lines,” Bennefield said. “We started right here at the local area at first. Once we got it cleaned up, we moved on down south, to the south part of our system. That’s where the majority of our outages were.”
“After the storm came in, we had about just over 25,000 outages,” said Brittney Ford, director of communications and member services for DETEC. “We, of course, monitored the storm prior to coming in and did what we needed to do to on our end to be prepared.”
In roughly a week, the Co-Op now reports less than 1,000 outages.
“We typically have about 50 to 70 linemen,” said General Manager Bryan Wood. “We called in another 100 to 150. Some were from other cooperatives. Some are what we call contractors workers. At the height of it, we were delivering 250 meals out in the field to the men working.”
Wood says the amount of damage and the workers experience in previous hurricanes helped restore power quickly compared to past hurricanes.
“They knew where to start, and they moved in a more progressive way,” Wood said. “We started on the west side and moved east. We got all the damage down to around to one spot down around Toledo Bend Dam that we’ll wrap up today.”
“It’s definitely a rewarding job, but I think most of us would say it’s the job we’ve signed up for,” Ford said. “We enjoy helping people and we just so happen to get to do that at work each day.”
“It’s a good job,” Bennefield said. “We love it.”
Linemen with DETEC said they have also received help from members of the community and would like to thank them for that and their patience while trying to restore power.
DETEC officials said if you are still without power to let them know by calling 1-800-392-5986.