Keeping the Lights On: Linemen work to restore power under any condition

NORTH MISSISSIPPI (WCBI) – There’s a special group of people who we can thank every time we flip a switch to turn the lights on. Those brave men and women are linemen and they put their life on the line to make sure every home and business is connected to power.

They are on call 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Working in any and every condition, they are the first to get called when bad weather strikes and some of the last to make it home.

“That’s the thing about being a lineman, we are not fair-weather guys. If the lights are out we are out,” said Eric Yarbrough, Heavy Construction Foreman.

Yarbrough has been in linework for more than 20 years. He’ll be the first to tell you it requires much mental and physical work, but Yarbrough said many times they are the first signs of hope.

“Yeah, that’s kind of the deal with us you know it’s the satisfaction in seeing it when it’s built back. You know if you take damage to your home, shop business, or whatever it may be. Whenever you are able to take power back that’s kind of the first sign that everything is going to be okay and get back to normal at some point,” said Yarbrough.

When severe weather ripped through parts of Monroe County and Amory in March, getting the power restored was one of the first priorities during cleanup
General Manager of Monroe County Power Association Barry Rowland said it wouldn’t have been possible without his guys and the help from neighboring co-ops.

“We added 75 linemen that helped us so it would have taken us a lot longer to restore power and so we try to do the same if something happens to another utility. We’re in good shape right now. Anyone who can take power has power. We worked for a solid week and had everyone restored who could take power,” said Rowland.

Linemen work with extremely high voltages of electricity. Amory Electric Utilities Manager Mike King said conditions can be even more severe during cleanup.

“They are dealing with hotlines many times and they are holding a lot of voltage in their hands and one missed step can lead to a fatality or severe injury. In storm damage, you are tired and worn out and have adverse conditions. Some lines are down and you don’t know what’s hot and what not and you have to be even more careful doing that,” said King.

Yarbrough said it’s a job that takes a lot of sacrifices.

“We have to go in it sometimes it’s long events, long periods and your family has to sacrifice too. Your wife, your kids. You know you are going to miss birthdays, your gonna miss weddings anniversaries, you’re gonna miss Christmas it’s just part of what we do,” said Yarbrough.

So, next time you flip a switch, think of a lineman and thank one.

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