Throwback Thursday: April 2013

Today’s Throwback Thursday doesn’t take us back very far, if you count days, months or years. But in the middle of summer, going back to a land of ice and snow feels pretty far removed.

Sioux Valley Energy, a Basin Electric Class C member headquartered in Colman, SD, faced a major ice storm April 9. At the height of the storm, the cooperative had 10,000 outages and 200 poles down.

In the July-August 2013 Basin Today, you can see how Sioux Valley Energy kept their members informed using social media: Sioux Valley Energy uses social media to communicate during ice storm

Sioux Valley Energy

Jennie Patrick of Sioux Valley Energy took photos of the ice storm damage and posted them to Facebook, so members stuck in their homes could see why they didn’t have electricity.

Read an excerpt:

Back in the office, Carrie Law and Jennie Patrick were using an infrastructure of their own. The two had set up a Facebook page and Twitter account about a year earlier.

“I don’t know how we would’ve done without it,” Law says. “Obviously, electric cooperatives have gotten through major storms and outages before social media just fine. However, Facebook and Twitter allowed us to add another form of communication, beyond the traditional phone call, for members who prefer to use social media.”

Law and Patrick split the duties of posting to Facebook – Law provided the written updates and answered members’ questions and concerns, while Patrick spent her time in the field taking pictures. “I believe using Facebook reduced our call volume. We try to answer all calls ourselves, but because we were able to answer questions on Facebook and provide regular updates and pictures of the progress, some members didn’t feel the need to call,” Law says.

As long as a smartphone is charged, it doesn’t need electricity to work. People use their phones as their contact with the outside world. “And if they could, they’d go somewhere to charge their phones up again, and go back home,” Law says.

She says the photos they posted throughout the storm went a long way to help highlight the extent of the damage. “When you’re snowed in, sometimes all you see is your yard, or maybe up and down the road a few miles. We were able to post pictures showing infrastructure ripped to the ground and five or more line crews fixing long rows of poles. People were able to see that and say, ‘Oh, that’s why my power might not come on for a day or two yet. There’s a lot of damage out there,’” Law says. Keep reading…

Sioux Valley Energy Facebook

A sample of the exciting news at the end of the storm.

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