Customers receiving electrical power from Concordia Electric Cooperative could see their service restored as early as this afternoon or as late as Wednesday, a spokesman for Entergy said today.
Entergy’s Roderick Worthy of West Monroe said when Hurricane Laura barreled through Louisiana last Wednesday and Thursday that it devastated much of its power grid west of the Mississippi River, including its transmission lines that feed local and regional utility operations such as Concordia Electric, which also suffered system damage.
Worthy said Entergy has launched its largest restoration effort in the company’s history. Approximately 23,000 crewmen from 29 states, including Louisiana, are involved in the restoration work.
Concordia Electric’s General Manager DeWayne Bailey said this afternoon that Entergy representatives indicated 65 to 85 percent of its customers may be restored at some point this afternoon. Approximately 95 percent are presently without power.
He said customers have been understanding but “it’s starting to wear on them. We’re doing everything we can and pulled in extra crews to work on what we already knew was down.”
He said the cooperative’s employees also are without power.
The center of the hurricane blasted through Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana before making an eastern turn and racing through Alexandria and Natchitoches. Its center crossed I-20 in the vicinity of Ruston.
“It was still a hurricane when traveling through North Louisiana,” Worthy said.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Shreveport said today that North Louisiana was hit with “double hell” – a ferocious storm and in the aftermath, thousands of families without electricity in the heat of late August.
“Louisiana has never seen anything like this,” he said. “This is the worst we’ve ever had, especially in North Louisiana.”
He said the winds from Hurricane Laura were higher than those of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Campbell said his office has been working since the storm passed out of the state to get Entergy and cooperatives to repair the transmission and distribution lines that feed into the region as soon as possible.
“There are working on it, and we’re pushing them,” he said.
Worthy said Entergy’s priority at this time is to restore “the backbone of the system so that we will have the ability to reenergize the distribution system serving local communities.”
Aerial drones are assessing damage over transmission lines that span over towering poles equal in size to those that cross the Mississippi River at Vidalia. Drones are being flown over swamps, waterways and forests. More personnel have been brought in to expedite the process to rebuild and repair the system.
The damage is unprecedented, Worthy said. “We’re in bad shape, but we are going to get the system up.”
He said “we can’t confirm a definite time” that power for Concordia Electric customers will be restored, although he said it could be as early as this afternoon or as late as Wednesday.
Concordia Electric’s Bailey said the cooperative has 2,600 miles of line and 13,600 customers. The system serves all or part of eight parishes, including Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides and Tensas parishes.