Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.jpg

Much of the state west of the Mississippi River suffered through lengthy power outages in wake of Hurricane Laura recently, the most powerful hurricane in Louisiana’s history. 

Many Concordia Electric customers in Franklin, Catahoula and other parishes that were without power for an extended period now have electricity. 

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 last week that several different crews, including contract crews from SLEMCO and Point Coupee, assisted Concordia Electric in getting the system back on line. 

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. 

Entergy’s Roderick Worthy of West Monroe said when Laura barreled through Louisiana 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. 

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Shreveport said 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. 

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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