Reflections from a memorable year

CEO Karen Moore

Were you living in Baldwin County when Hurricane Ivan came through in 2004? How about for Frederic in 1979? If you were, you probably remember that both of those significant storms were followed by a building boom. The beach area developed faster than ever following Frederic, and buildings destroyed by Ivan came back bigger than anything our area had seen.

Now that almost six months have passed since Hurricane Sally made landfall, I find myself wondering if we’ll experience the same kind of surge in growth.

We’ve already seen an unprecedented amount of new construction in our county, prior to the recent storms. From August 2019 to August of 2020, Baldwin EMC added approximately 3,000 new meters.

Reflecting on all of this has made me realize the similarities between building a home and building an organization like Baldwin EMC. Specifically, the importance of building them with what those in the real estate business call “good bones.”

In home construction, these “good bones” refer to the most important components in a home, such as the plumbing, wiring and foundation. When the bones are good, you can say the home is built to last.

For Baldwin EMC, our good bones are the people, principles and planning that have made it possible for this co-op to stay strong during one of the most memorable years in our 83-year history.

Back in March, which now seems like a lifetime ago, our team made its first pivot of the year, when the Covid-19 pandemic began impacting our area. For the well-being of our employees and members, we vastly modified our operations to comply with health and safety guidelines.

As we returned to the office in May, we optimistically thought we might be past the biggest hurdle we’d have to jump over.

That was until hurricane season began. And along came Sally and Zeta within six weeks of each other. After these historic storms came through, in some areas, we were left to rebuild our distribution system from the ground up.

But as I’ve said time and time again as we recover from these storms, what works against us is nothing compared to the resilience of what is working for us – the people who are committed to seeing this restoration process all the way through, no matter how long.

We have gained valuable insight from every storm this season that will help us fine-tune our Natural Disaster Response Plan. This plan was our North Star as we worked to bring back your power following both storms. The good news is this plan is just one of many we have that guides us.

It was Baldwin EMC’s technology plan that enabled us to adjust our operations when we closed offices to minimize the spread of Covid-19. It was our crisis communications plan that guided us as we worked to keep you informed during both these events. It’s our five-year strategic plan that is helping us navigate our course and focus on our priorities as Baldwin EMC continues to recover and rebuild.

But we’re not only focused on restoring power for our members. We also want to restore hope. We know there are many people in our community who were hit hard by 2020’s curve balls. Many are still out of work, others are facing home damage, some are dealing with major illnesses or the loss of loved ones.

So, as we brought 2020 to a close, Baldwin EMC offered many ways for members to both give and receive assistance right here in our local community.

Through events like the Power of Giving drive, which celebrated 15 years in 2020, or the Magical Christmas Toy Drive, which is now ten years and tens of thousands of toy donations strong.

Or Operation Round Up, which in 2020 reached a milestone of $5 million in grant distributions made possible by your contributions to this program.

So, 2020 had good moments, too. And it’s also had good people. People like you, our members. Your support and encouragement throughout 2020 was outstanding.

That brings up another important component of building a good home with good bones. You want to put it in a good neighborhood.

Baldwin EMC is glad to be your neighbor – a part of your community. We’re glad that we laid down a foundation here eighty-three years ago.

And while I hope we don’t face another year like 2020 ever again, I know if we do, together we’ll stay standing. Thank you for standing with us. And thank you for being a member.

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