Nebraska is a great place with many seasons, sometimes experienced in the same month or week. As a young child on the farm my favorite season was always winter. Warming up by the wood stove after helping my dad do chores on our farrow- to- finish hog operation. I was ignorant of the hardships winter dealt as I only had to watch innocently as my dad would freeze his hands thawing out waterers and struggling to keep all the livestock warm and comfortable. Not until later in life did I understand the hardships that came with winter storms.
One day following a bad winter storm while trying to make it into town for necessities with my dad, we saw the local REA linemen, setting and climbing poles in near blizzard -like conditions. They were working to restore power on a windswept hillside where a line feeding one of our neighbors had failed during the storm. I remember my dad explaining to me what the crews were doing and thinking to myself “I want to do that when I grow up.” The feeling of reward after working hard in harsh elements to restore power to friends and neighbors seemed gratifying.
Years later I became a linemen and had the opportunity to experience the gratification of restoring power after storm damage many times. Even now as I am in a different role, supervising the Control Center in a warm office, I am still drawn to be a part of the satisfaction of safely restoring power to Nebraskans.
It is a wonderful state we live in where neighbors help each other in times of need. When a storm hits and neighboring utilities are in need of help, there is no lack of assistance offered. In the ice storm of 2006-07, utilities and contractors from many states gathered in central Nebraska to piece the electric system back together. I had the opportunity as a linemen to help Southern Power District during that restoration and one particular customer restoration stands out above all the rest. It was a farmer at the end of a circuit who had been out of power for 20 or so days. He was having a hard time keeping his livestock watered and comfortable, not to mention his family members. When we restored his power and checked with him to make sure everything was OK, he shed a tear in joy. He couldn’t thank us enough as he would no longer have to struggle to maintain his livestock and family.
I felt particular satisfaction from that day as I reflected on my own experiences on the farm and the joy my family felt when the power finally came back on after a storm. There is no feeling like selflessly helping a neighbor in a time need. That is why I will always love Nebraskans’ values and commitment to success. Whenever there is a challenge, NPPD and our public power partners are always willing to reach out to help one another. Nebraskans, “Always there when you need us.”