For more than five decades, Gresco has risen to the challenges faced by electric cooperatives, yet few challenges are as great as those weathered during a hurricane. In October 2018, Hurricane Michael was rapidly approaching the Gulf Coast of Florida. While communities in this area are no strangers to powerful hurricanes, this unusually fast-moving and fast-maturing storm left little time for preparation.

Hurricane Michael Storms Talquin Electric

Directly in the eye of the storm was Talquin Electric Cooperative, a member-owned, not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative that provides electricity to approximately 53,000 customers in over four counties, from Florida’s Gulf Coast to the Florida state line. In the days before the storm, Talquin was facing the daunting challenge of preparing a response to a widespread power outage and damage to the electric infrastructure on which these customers depended. The speed and intensity of this Category 5 storm meant that supplies critical for storm preparation and restoration efforts had to be ordered and delivered very quickly. For decades, Talquin has relied on Gresco for a full range of utility supplies, from transformers and wiring cables, to auto splices and everyday electrical materials. With this dangerous storm approaching, Gresco was needed more than ever.

“We reached out to Gresco two days before the hurricane hit to start discussing the supplies we expected to need”

Suzanna Nielsen - Supply Chain Services Manager, Talquin

Suzanna Nielsen worked together with Lisa Burnett, a Supply Chain Administrator at Talquin, on this overwhelming task. Throughout their decades-long partnership, Gresco had always quickly responded to their needs with quality supplies at a fair price.

As the storm raced closer and the worsening weather affected power, Talquin and their surrounding communities lost nearly all communication. Thankfully, Gresco closely monitored the storm and continually kept the Talquin team informed about its location and conditions.

“Gresco stayed in touch with us constantly and truly cared about us and our business. Gresco not only offered electric support, but even offered to come and help with our operational needs when we were exhausted, or simply sit with us when we were worried.”

Lisa Burnett - Supply Chain Administrator, Talquin

Outperforming All Expectations

Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 storm in history to make landfall along the northeastern Gulf Coast. Its high winds, heavy rains and storm surges damaged and destroyed homes, structures and lives in many communities. The morning after the storm struck, Ms. Nielsen and Ms. Burnett were finally able to regain communication. The first call they made was to Gresco.

With this one telephone call, Gresco immediately started sending trucks full of electrical supplies, which started arriving in a matter of hours. Gresco sent up to three fully-loaded trucks from its fleet each day, 24 hours a day, for two solid weeks, all while also servicing the communities hit in Alabama. As the days went on and both Gresco and Talquin employees put in 16-hour days to restore power to these hard-hit communities, Gresco even contracted third-party crews to deliver additional supplies to allow drivers to get some sleep, yet still ensure that Talquin would have all of the material they needed as quickly as possible.

“No matter how overwhelming our needs became, Gresco never said, ‘No,’ Gresco would track down anything we needed, no matter how limited supplies or crews became, and did everything possible to help. I would not like to go through a storm without Gresco, In fact, I don’t think we could have gotten through a storm without them. I am sure that other electric cooperatives will echo our thoughts about Gresco.”

Suzanna Nielsen - Supply Chain Services Manager, Talquin

After more than two weeks of storm restoration efforts by three times the typical number of crews working 16-hour days, life began to get back normal for most of the area’s residents. Just as Talquin is incredibly grateful for Gresco’s dedication and personal care throughout Hurricane Michael, Gresco greatly appreciates the support of Talquin over the years and looks forward to many more years of mutually successful collaboration. More than a partnership, this relationship between two cooperatives has become one that ultimately benefits the communities that have placed their trust in both.