Line crews from two of North Carolina's electric cooperatives joined forces with co-op line crews in Virginia to quickly restore power to the people in that state affected by the late-winter storm last week.

Crews from Blue Ridge EMC based in Lenoir, North Carolina, and Rutherford EMC based in Forest City traveled north into Virginia early last Thursday morning. A total of more than 30 electric cooperative line workers from North Carolina helped the Virginia co-ops with outage restoration efforts.

The deployment of crews is part of a mutual aid agreement shared between the nation's nearly 1,000 electric cooperatives to help one another in times of emergency, such as natural disasters. Electric cooperatives across the country use the same line system engineering standards, which means line crews from any part of the country can quickly help sister cooperatives in restoration efforts.

"Electricity is critical to the way we live, and it's important that people affected by this storm have power restored as quickly as possible," said Jane Pritchard, director of corporate communications for the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives. "We are happy to help our fellow cooperatives and know that they would do the same for us because it's the cooperative way."

North Carolina's electric cooperatives serve approximately 2.5 million people in 93 of the state's 100 counties and maintain nearly 98,000 miles of power lines.