4-County Linemen Lend A Helping Hand When Havoc Hits

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Hurricane Florence will soon be making an impact on the East Coast.

Dozens of first responders and agencies from across the country are either already in those areas, on their way, or getting ready to head there in the next few days.

On Tuesday, we told you about rescue teams from Columbus and Tupelo going out to assist during the storm and its aftermath.

4-County has a crew lined up to head out to lend a helping hand.

At this point, they’re not sure where they will be needed, but these types of storms are nothing new for these linemen.

Hurricane Florence is forcing memories from the past to wash up.

“It looked like, and if I pause for a minute I’m sorry, but I ain’t never ever seen anything like that. If that’s what an atomic bomb looks like, then that’s what I saw,” says 4-County lead mechanic, Jonathan Edwards.

For the last 17 years, Edwards has traveled to dozens of states impacted by all types of storms, including several hurricanes.

But, he says nothing has compared to Hurricane Katrina.

“I know when we go to these things, there are sometimes where we’re putting up power poles and nothing to connect to because it’s gone. Complete devastation, complete.”

Foreman Eric Yarbrough has also seen the worst of the worst several times throughout his career and is now preparing for the wreckage Florence is predicted to leave behind.

“Seeing, you know, Katrina first-hand, I kind of know what to expect, but you always in the back of your mind, you know, you’re never really I guess, mentally prepared, you know? You never know what to expect. You just prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and you’re just ready to get there, get your boots on the ground, and start helping,” says 4-County Foreman, Eric Yarbrough.

And when their boots hit the ground, their jobs become even riskier than they already are.

“The water is high, you don’t know what’s under there, you can’t see. We drive through it. We walk through it. We wade through it all of the time. Of course, you’ve got snakes and alligators and all of that stuff and you know of course, most of the time, the weather is not the greatest. It’s lightning, it’s storming, and it’s raining.”

On top of that, they are often working in isolated areas with little or no support services, so these men have to lean on each other.

“No matter where we go, we always watch each other’s backs. I feel safe when I go and I know that they feel safe because I’m there with them because I keep their stuff going when it breaks so that they can get lights on.”

Besides restoring power, crews also try to help restore hope to people whose lives have been completely changed.

“We are the first signs of hope. Most of the times, the first ones that they see when they return home or to their neighborhood. We’re there with all of our trucks and we’re out working and walking around, you know, we’re the first people that they see, so you have to be, you know, kind of open-minded because you don’t know what state of mind they’re in.”

Yarbrough says 4-County crews have been to South Carolina two times over the years to help with storm damage.

They usually stay in these areas anywhere from 7 to 14 days at a time and will continue to send crews as they’re needed.

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