Dorian aftermath

The aftermath of a tornado on the N.C. coast that touched down near the hotel where Blue Ridge Energy crew members were staying while helping with power restoration following Hurricane Dorian.

CARTERET COUNTY — Blue Ridge Energy sent 20 line technicians from across their system to help with coastal power restoration in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, including linemen from Ashe County.

The five linemen from Ashe County who were sent to help with power restoration included Jeff Walker, Jerry Kemp, Allen Huffman, John Sloan and Larry Wood.

Crews left the High Country in the morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 5, and returned Sunday evening, working long hours to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible, according to BRE Public Relations Director Renee Whitener.

“The bulk of our time was spent assisting Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op, which had about half of their system without power,” Whitener said. “When we arrived, our line technicians said 25,000 of their members were without power.”

Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op, a sister electric cooperative of Blue Ridge Energy, serves nearly 40,000 members primarily in Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow counties on the coast of North Carolina.

According to Whitener, the Ashe linemen said a tornado touched down close to their hotel as the hurricane passed through the area.

“Crews were up against heavy flooding, heat and humidity,” Whitener said.

One of the biggest challenges linemen faced while working was getting food, Whitener said. Many restaurants were closed due to the coastal evacuation or restaurant staff simply not being able to reach locations due to flooding.

“However, our crews said Carteret-Craven employees were excellent to cook and bring food to the line technicians working in the field,” Whitener said.

Mike Kincaid, Ashe County operations manager for BRE, said helping others is the cooperative way.

“Anytime we’re able to go help during a storm like this, there’s a sense of pride and gratitude in being able to help others,” Kincaid said. “In the mountains, we’re usually dealing with extreme cold and bad winter storms. The folks down east deal with hot temperatures and flooding and they’re just as happy to see us as we are when we have assistance from sister co-ops during our bad winter storms.”

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