Local National Guardsmen, utility workers headed to hurricane impact zone

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ST. LOUIS – Dozens of people from the bi-state area are traveling to the East Coast to help hurricane victims. The US Coast Guard in St. Louis is sending two dozen of its members to North Carolina. They’ll be ready to make rescues in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

“One of the Coast Guard’s main missions is life-saving,” said Lt. Meagan Scholten, US Coast Guard.

Guardsmen received plenty of experience rescuing flood victims in our area. Just last year, they were helping flood victims in Eureka when the town went under.

“Being able to actually go out there and do our main mission is just an extremely rewarding function for our personnel,” Lt. Scholten said. “We’ve had years of experience doing this and it’s a great joy bringing that experience the rest of the country in their time of need.”

Hurricanes typically leave behind lots of damage. The winds and falling trees are especially hard on power lines. Residents can be without electricity for several days, even longer.

“There’s a real helping hand attitude, if you will, with all our cooperatives,” said Mary Wilson, spokeswoman for the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative.

Electric cooperatives in Missouri, including Cuivre River, are dispatching 162 line workers to South Carolina. They will be working long days and could be gone for almost two weeks.

“They’ve reciprocated. We’ve had help when we had ice storms here in Missouri; we lost power and cooperatives from around the country came together and came to help us the same way we're going down to help with the South Carolina hurricane,” Wilson said.

Eight linemen from the Cuivre River Cooperative leave Friday morning. In all, 33 cooperatives are sending crews from Missouri to the East Coast. Ten Illinois National Guardsmen are also being dispatched to also help hurricane victims.

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