NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Entergy Louisiana says it is ready to respond to new power outages that may happen because of Tropical Storm Nicholas which made landfall in Texas but is impacting Louisiana with rain and wind.
John Hawkins is Vice President of Distribution Operations at Entergy Louisiana.
“We are very prepared,” he said.
Hawkins says they have been paying a lot of attention to Nicholas over the past 72 hours and are ready to respond to any power outages.
“We still have a strong restoration workforce here, you know, working from Hurricane Ida that will complement and help to support any new outages that we have. So, we will address those immediately, you know, restoring power to those customers and then also continue to balance that with the restoration and rebuild down in the southeast region,” said Hawkins.
The utility is still restoring electricity knocked out two weeks after Hurricane Ida but has restored power to most impacted customers. Hawkins said as of Tuesday morning 87,000 of the more than 900,000 customers affected by Ida were still without electricity, but crews continued to work.
Still, he said Nicholas could end up interrupting restoration work.
“Yes, there is a chance, we did see some weather reports where they were indicating, you know, gusts of, you know, up to 50 miles an hour and I will tell you for us, safety-wise our crews, they ‘t put their buckets in the air when the winds are above 30 miles an hour, so that requires us to stop some restoration and then also if there’s any lightning that comes with this weather front, we have to shelter in place, you know when lightning is within 10 miles of a location that we’re working. So, those are things that could pose a challenge,” said Hawkins.
Also, he said because of the rain southeast Louisiana got even before Ida made landfall on August 29th the ground is saturated, and some trees are still falling as a result of the impact of Ida’s winds and impacting Entergy’s equipment days after the hurricane.
“What you’re seeing is after Ida came and through there’s a lot of limbs, there’s a lot of trees actually that are fallen into our facilities days later. I mean the ground is so saturated that these trees are just falling over and then branches, you know, that has been broken and while they didn’t cause an outage previously, you know, just a gust of wind can get into our lines and then you’ll see an outage later, so, unfortunately, that is what we’re experiencing due to the extreme winds that were experienced from Hurricane Ida,” Hawkins stated.
And Nicholas could cause more tree roots to loosen from the ground and topple leading to more power lines being impacted.
“That’s a strong possibility because I will tell you this has been a very rainy season already and then to have the rain that we experienced from Hurricane Ida and now the rain that we’re currently experiencing from Hurricane Nicholas that definitely can pose a challenge. But I will say we still have a large compliment of restoration workers, men and women who are here committed to restoring our communities, so any new outages we will address quickly and continue with our restoration efforts for Hurricane Ida,” Hawkins stated.
He said Entergy has over 20,000 workers working on power restorations.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said people who suffered property damage during Ida who have insurance and get damage because of Nicholas will not have to meet a second insurance deductible.
“Actually, it is covered by the same hurricane or named storm deductible that applies to both claims at the same time because in the aftermath of Gustav hitting us in 2008 and Ike heading our way in the same track Gustav had just done but at the last minute made a left turn, went along our coast and made landfall in Galveston, we went to the legislature because of that scare and got a bill passed that copies the law in Florida on their books since 2004 when they had four hurricane events and that says one hurricane or named storm deductible per hurricane season that’s the most. So, that’s why I urge everyone even if they think their claim is well below their deductible file it anyway because we’re only halfway through this season,” said Donelon.
He said the Lake Charles area was hit by two back-to-back hurricanes last year.
“So last year in Lake Charles Laura crushed that city and then a couple of weeks later Delta came through the exact same path, so it’s a question number one, you only have one hurricane deductible to meet each year, so file your claim, whatever you file on the first that you don’t get paid for we’ll come off of the deductible for the second or third event that may come our way, so that’s number one,” said Donelon.
And Hawkins said it is impossible to predict what outages could occur because of Nicholas, it is recommended that the public check their storm list and be prepared just in case.
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