September 7, 2020—The Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) began early preparations to deploy line crews the week of August 24 after authorities were predicting a very serious hurricane with widespread power outages in parts of Louisiana and Texas. Hurricane Laura made landfall on Thursday, August 27, around 2 a.m. near Cameron, Louisiana, as a category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds. The storm began to weaken as it moved inland but caused significant impacts across portions of Louisiana and Eastern Texas, resulting in more than 1 million people losing power.
The morning the storm hit, KPUB sent six of its line workers to help restore power to Kirbyville, Texas: David Burley (crew leader), Justin Martinez, Josh Whitworth, Nathan Weyel, Trey Owen and Tyrel Triesch. This restoration trip marks the third time KPUB has restored power for the City of Kirbyville after hurricanes, helping after both Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
“We’re out here in the heat, mud, wet and with a ton of mosquitoes—it’s pretty miserable conditions,” said David Burley, KPUB crew leader during his time there. “That’s just a part of the job. I love what I do, and it’s always a rewarding experience to help other communities get their lights back on.”
As a community-owned utility, KPUB is part of a network of over 2,000 public power utilities that answer the call for mutual aid to help restore power during major events. At the peak of the storm, the entire community of Kirbyville lost power. KPUB’s line crews helped restore power to Kirbyville for more than a week and returned home safely to Kerrville on the evening of September 3.
“The crews that KPUB sent down were outstanding,” said Frank George, Mayor of Kirbyville. “They worked tirelessly from daytime to dark each day that they were here—we couldn’t have asked for a finer group of line workers. Kirbyville is so thankful for the work they did to restore our power.”
While KPUB has helped restore power on numerous occasions in the State of Florida and other Texas communities, this past year was the first time the utility had experienced the need to call for mutual aid themselves.
“We’re happy to help other communities in need because they do the same for us,” said Mike Wittler, KPUB general manager & CEO. “After the Memorial Day storm events Kerrville experienced ourselves, it’s nice to pay it forward after our neighboring utilities helped get our community’s lights back on after the waves of storms we had.”
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