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Parts of Concordia Parish and much of the state west of the Mississippi River suffered through lengthy power outages in wake of Hurricane Laura last week, the most powerful hurricane in Louisiana’s history.

Many Concordia Electric customers in Concordia, Catahoula and six other parishes that were without power for an extended period now have electricity, while others do not.

The cooperative’s power source was cut off when Entergy transmission lines went down during the storm.

Concordia Electric’s General Manager DeWayne Bailey 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 Wednesday morning that several different crews, including contract crews from SLEMCO and Point Coupee, are assisting Concordia Electric in getting the system back on line.

“We are making progress every day and feel like we will have most everyone on by the end of the week and will be able to release the extra help,” he said. “There may still be some individual outages, but nothing we can’t manage.”

According to Eric Carpenter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., Laura made landfall in Cameron in Calcasieu Parish after midnight August 27 as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.

The center of the storm moved through Lake Charles, passed over Fort Polk at Leesville west of Alexandria and moved into northern Louisiana, crossing Interstate-20 east of Shreveport as a category 1 hurricane.

Sustained winds in Concordia Parish were in the range of 30 to 40 miles an hour Thursday with gusts of 50 miles per hour, Carpenter said.

Most of the parish received approximately four inches of rain with 4.4 inches recorded at the Old River Control Structure along the Mississippi in southern Concordia.

Entergy’s Roderick Worthy of West Monroe said when Laura barreled through Louisiana last Wednesday and Thursday 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 that in the aftermath, Entergy 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.

The restoration of power for Concordia Electric customers began after the storm and continued into this week.

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Shreveport said Sunday that northern Louisiana was hit with “double hell” – a ferocious storm and in the

aftermath, thousands of families without electricity in the oppressive 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 was to restore “the backbone of the system so that we will have the ability to reenergize the distribution system serving local communities.”

Aerial drones were sent into the air to assess 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.

The damage is unprecedented, Worthy said. “We’re in bad shape, but we are going to get the system up.”

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.

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