A blanket of snow began to form across our farm. The small light, picturesque flakes turned to large flakes mixed with pellets of ice. It quickly accumulated on the ground, trees and power lines.
The livestock took shelter in the barn and the family retreated to the house. Then it happened. A flicker, then another, one more, and then the lights went off. Our electricity was out.
I live in the southwest corner or our county. The closest town is 15 miles away. Living in a rural area, you come to expect the occasional power outage. However, this snowstorm was rapidly becoming the largest this season. Interstates and roads were closing by the hour. Help surely would be a long time coming. So, we settled in, gathering candles, board games and cards.
However, in less than two hours the lights and heat came on, all thanks to our rural electric cooperative.
My husband and I are second-generation rural electric cooperative patrons on both sides of the family. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative has served my family's home farm since 1977. At that time my family purchased a bare piece of land in Warren County. After living in the city for the first eight years of my young life, it was the first time I saw electric crews dig holes, raise poles and string lines. It was also my first experience with a dusk-to-dawn light.
My husband knows first-hand the life of an electric cooperative employee. His father retired from InterCounty Rural Electric Cooperative in Texas County. He recalls the times his father, Lonnie, would spend in the snow and ice repairing lines. Sometimes his father's day turned into nights. My father-in-law was often out all night fighting the weather and repairing lines, whether in his home county or neighboring counties. He was even called to other states to help during ice storms.
Powering the nation
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NREC) is compiled more than 800 rural electric cooperatives that serve 42 million people in 47 states. They provide electric power to 18.5 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems in 3,141 U.S. counties, according to the NREC. In Missouri, there are 47 electric cooperatives.
These cooperatives are non-profit electric utilities that are owned by the customers they serve.
Over the years, I have found that those men and women who work for rural electric cooperatives are all about serving their customer. It is not out of duty, but more out of concern. They are out in the elements to help their family, their neighbors and their friends.
My husband often reminds my children not to whine or complain when the power goes out because those men and women left the warmth of their homes, their families and sometime hometowns, just to make sure we have heat.
So a big thank you to all of those involved with a rural electric cooperative. Thank you for your willingness to serve rural America during all of our weather seasons.