Co-ops work to help other Oklahomans without electricity

BY RON JACKSON Published: February 3, 2010

/> Back at Kiwash’s headquarters, others like Rick Wiest oversee the command center. Wiest, a 16-year employee, huddles over a screen as eyes and ears for the crews in the field. He keeps linemen updated on new outages or toppled lines that present a public danger.

"Rick is so dedicated to what he does, he won’t even leave his station — not even for lunch,” said Jerry Black, a veteran lineman and now Wiest’s supervisor. "He knows what he’s doing, and has so much knowledge of our system even though he has never been a lineman. That’s why our linemen have so much respect for him.

"He’ll brag about how us older guys know where every customer is located by name, but he’s the one who knows where everyone is by heart. In reality, he’s a genius.”

Kiwash accountant Wendy Putman, meanwhile, has added a new assignment to her daily schedule. Putman will collect every receipt, work order, document and photo pertaining to the ice storm cleanup for the upcoming FEMA application.

In the end, Putman’s work will enable reimbursement for a portion of the millions Kiwash will spend in the coming weeks. "It’s chaos,” she said with a smile. "But everyone is just trying to do their part.”

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