As a native of Washington County, I realize how difficult the past year has been for all of us. I have seen the far-reaching impacts Hurricane Michael has left on the agricultural/timber industries and our natural resources. Our area's natural beauty has been changed and it will take years for it to recover. I also realize that many of our co-op’s members were greatly impacted by this unprecedented natural disaster and are still recovering tod
While we are looking back at the events of last October, please take a moment to say a prayer for the Ussery, Cesil and Barrett families who lost loved ones during the power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael. Our co-op family continues to feel the void left by Bo's untimely death. He is still remembered and missed very much.ay.
It is hard to believe that this month marks a year since the occurrence of the worst natural disaster to ever hit our area. I’ve worked in the utility industry for over thirty-seven years and this was by far, the worst storm I have ever seen. Many veteran linemen and right-of-way professionals who assisted WFEC
after Hurricane Michael stated this was the worst natural disaster and damage they had ever encountered in their many years of working storm recovery.
More than 99 percent of WFEC’s members were without electricity the day after the storm passed through our area. It took every WFEC employee, as well as linemen, right-of-way workers and support personnel from 60 additional cooperatives and 15 electrical contractors to restore power to all members who could safely receive it in just 31/2 weeks.
Considering it has taken over 80 years to build this electric distribution system spanning approximately 4,800 miles and four counties, it is amazing to believe WFEC accomplished this tremendous task in such a
short amount of time. Without the help of this additional workforce, it would have taken WFEC personnel many months to restore power to our members.
We expect WFEC to continue seeing the impacts from this storm for years to come. At this time, WFEC linemen along with contractors continue repairs and cleanup throughout the cooperative’s service area.
Temporary repairs, which were made during the storm to restore power as quickly as possible to members,
are being converted to permanent repairs. Debris pickup and right-of-way trimming are also still taking
place throughout the cooperative’s service area. This has not been a short-term recovery process. We
expect it will take several years of ongoing repairs to recover and restore our electric distribution system to
the reliable state it was in before this Category 5 hurricane.
I’d like to take a moment to ask each of you to consider that this storm is something your co-op, the communities we serve and the panhandle of Florida has never experienced – ever. The damage caused by this storm was unprecedented and was unlike anything we’d ever seen with the Category 2 and 3 storms we’ve dealt with in the past.
Remember that WFEC is a not-for-profit cooperative, which means the co-op cannot hold money in reserves and cannot have millions of dollars in savings set aside “just in case” something of this nature happens. This storm was financially devastating to your co-op. Yes, FEMA has awarded approximately 30 percent of the cooperative’s storm recovery costs to WFEC in the form of reimbursements, however, that leaves approximately 70 percent of the estimated $70 million in costs
that have not been reimbursed. WFEC continues working with FEMA to submit all the necessary
documentation required to receive additional reimbursements for eligible expenses related to storm
recovery. Please remember that all costs associated with recovering from Hurricane Michael are not eligible
To all cooperatives, contractors, and support personnel that responded to our devastation, we thank you. To WFEC employees, you rose to an unprecedented level in your dedication to WFEC and its members. And
to you, our members, thank you for your support, patience, understanding and prayers as we continue through the rebuilding process.