Mutual aid is important

Published 10:13 pm Friday, August 31, 2012

When Hurricane Irene rolled through the area just over a year ago, electrical workers from throughout the eastern United States — including some from the Gulf Coast — came to help turn the lights back on.

Now, Virginia gets the chance to return the favor.

In what seems like an ongoing, nationwide game of pay-it-forward, power companies all over the country have mutual-aid agreements with one another. Workers are routinely called upon to travel to other regions of the country to respond to hurricanes, ice storms and other disasters that leave large swaths of the country sitting in the dark. It’s similar to the mutual-aid agreements that local first responders have with one another, but on a larger scale.


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The tendency of humans to be at our best when disaster strikes is perhaps no more apparent than in America. Whether the problem is on a local, regional or national scale, Americans always come together and pitch in to make things right again when their neighbors — or the people they don’t know across the country — are having trouble.

The phenomenon was perhaps no more evident than after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Volunteer rescue workers, searchers, relief workers, clergy and other needed professionals descended upon the sites of the attacks in the days and weeks following, and those who stayed home gave blood, donated money and waved American flags to show support.

After the initial shock was over, the need was realized for enhanced mutual aid support among first responders nationwide, which helped shape current agreements.

Mutual aid among first responders, utility companies and other agencies is one of the backbones of emergency response in this country. Efforts at it should be continued and supported.

We continue to thank those from other areas who came to Virginia in the aftermath of Irene, and we thank those who left this week to respond to Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf Coast.