Tim Burg from the Ponca City Development Authority gave me the best explanation on how the utility companies help each other in a time a need. Here is what he told me:
“What you are seeing with the electrical and phone companies responding in times of emergencies is part of a program called Mutual Aid Agreement. Independent electrical, phone companies, or electrical companies owned by companies or municipalities sign a Mutual Air Agreement.
This agreement says that if one of the signatory companies needs help due t a disaster, then they will receive help from the other signers. The help is not excess staff but rather staff that can be spared from any coop or city and it is supplied to the area with need for emergency services at whatever the going rate for such services would be. It is not free.
The coordination is handled through the various state wide electrical or phone coop organizations, or the respective major suppliers associations. They are all over the place.
There is no government direction, with the exception that FEMA says they may withhold services to a stricken area, if they have not signed such Mutual Air Agreements. Sounds like they strongly encourage communities and states to work to the benefit of each other.
Isn’t America great!!! Where neighbor helps neighbor without the government having to tell them to do so. Kind of like the parable of the Good Samaritan.”
Thanks for helping to explain it so well.