Hurricane Ike caused widespread power outages that lasted for weeks. With Hurricane Laura and its 140-plus mile per hour winds barreling toward the Texas Louisiana border, electricity providers are already making plans for the hard work that will follow the storm.
In 2001, a similar but less powerful storm, Hurricane Ike, left three million people without electricity. Many had to wait weeks for repairs. Gov. Greg Abbott predicts Laura will also cause widespread power outages that may last for weeks.
Centerpoint Energy has already activated its emergency response plan as have Entergy and the Southwestern Electric Power Company, which cover a three-state area including Texas.
“Restoring power after the hurricane passes could take multiple days,” said Drew Seidel, SWEPCO vice president of distribution region operations. “We will make every effort to get the lights back on as soon as possible, and we want our customers to be prepared.”
SWEPCO has secured more than 1,000 line and tree personnel to assist company crews in responding to power outages caused by Hurricane Laura.
Entergy has marshalled 9,000 workers to help restore power after the storm passes. Mutual aid line crews are on their way from a total of 21 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Their trucks and crews will wait out of harm’s way until sustained winds drop below 30 miles per hour. Once it is safe for them to begin moving and using electrical bucket trucks, they will assess the damage to the electric grid and put together a restoration plan, with the largest outages being addressed first.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our Gulf Coast neighbors as they prepare for the damage and destruction that will likely follow being hit by a tropical storm and then a hurricane in the same week,” said CEO Eric Silagy of Florida Power and Light, one of the out of state companies on its way to help. The Florida crews hit the road for the Louisiana-Texas coast Tuesday.
Due to the pandemic, crews will follow social distancing and increased sanitation guidelines and will wear masks where appropriate.
The public will notice signs on trucks reminding them to honor the 6-feet social distancing requirement to help keep the crews safe while they work.
Allen East, vice president of distribution for Entergy Texas said, “These storms Marco and Laura, combined with the pandemic, create a potential triple threat to southeast Texas.”
Ironically, Laura is hitting on Lineworker Appreciation Day.
East is confident there will be enough resources and workers to successfully respond to the storm.
“We urge everyone to have plans in place and be storm ready. We will get through this together.”