Flint Energies Engages in Emergency Preparedness in October | Business
REYNOLDS/PERRY/WARNER ROBINS/COLUMBUS-Flint Energies undertakes constant effort in emergency preparedness throughout the year, but several events in October have sharpened the skills of the cooperative’s employees, according to Sr Vice President Jimmy Autry.
“Each year, we plan a tabletop exercise where employees come to a meeting room expecting to see a disaster that needs a response,” said Autry. “It’s part of the inside joke is to call the tabletop event “Hurricane Jimmy” since I invent the challenge for our team.”
This year, employees gathered to respond to the multiplying disaster of tropical force storm winds, flooding rains and a security breach into the Warner Robins Service Center location. As the event unfolds, a disaster team of employees that is assigned leadership on the spot evaluates the needs and calls upon resources to respond.
“We practice every year in the fall,” said Autry “unless we’ve had an actual emergency event during the year that qualifies as a test.” The requirement for a real event is that Flint’s online Emergency Restoration Plan (ERP) is consulted and multiple actions are taken to be sure that power is restored to the greatest number of members in the shortest time period.
“Flint has spent hours, day and years in improving our plans and we never practice an exercise without finding improvements that make us better,” said Autry. “Every disaster event and every exercise ends with a debriefing where the Emergency Restoration Plan is updated and improved.”
Flint Energies’ Board of Directors certifies its tabletop exercise to the Rural Utilities Service each fall, as required by regulations.
Disaster planning is not restricted inside the walls of the rural electric cooperative. Flint Energies is a full participant in the Emergency Management Association of Georgia and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). Flint attends the monthly meeting of the GEMA Area 4.
Autry added: “We were honored to join Houston County EMA Chief Jimmy Williams in hosting the GEMA Area 4 meeting at the Georgia National Fair this month.” Through a contact made several years ago, Flint Energies also pays for and hosts the Emergency Management Association of Georgia website www.emagonline.com Flint has good contacts with Emergency Management agencies and E-911 in each of the counties it serves.
Flint Energies doesn’t just plan for rain and storm events. On Oct. 16, Flint’s employees participated in the national earthquake drill called the Great Southeast Shakeout. Many think that earthquakes are an issue for another state but Georgia was affected by a small earthquake last February and an earthquake in Virginia several years ago damaged the National Cathedral and Washington Monument in Washington, DC.
Flint tries to help its members with their own disaster preparedness. Members online can find information on the Flint website entitled “Are You Ready for a Storm.” Flint distributed “Get Ready” information, bags and blankets to its members who attended this week’s annual meeting of members in Perry, Autry said.
“Emergency preparedness is not new to us at Flint,” Autry added. “Our Emergency Restoration Plan goes back to old paper notebooks that were created in the 1960’s.” “We’ve seen ice and snow, wind and rain, and other long term events where storm preparation plans helped us to better restore and serve our members.”
Autry said it’s important that every member have a plan on how they would cope with their lives, or make other accommodations, if a multi-day emergency event were to occur. The largest restoration event in recent years came after Tropical Storm Frances in 2004 when it took six days to restore all of the outages for Flint members.
About Flint Energies www.flintenergies.com
Flint Energies is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by thousands of members in parts of 17 central Georgia counties. Flint directly employs 233 employees and serves more than 86,400 electric meters. We are 100% locally-controlled and democratically governed by 11 members elected from among the membership. In 1937, Flint Energies was created to bring people together to meet common needs like reliable electric energy, and our mission remains focused on improving the quality of life in Middle Georgia.
Flint is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, part of the nationwide family of electric cooperatives exhibiting the core values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Flint’s members give their cooperative an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score of 84, which rates higher than most investor-owned utilities in the country.
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Flint Energies online at www.flintenergies.com