According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ida has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. The extremely dangerous storm is expected to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana in the early afternoon today and move through Mississippi. Those in the hardest-hit areas could experience power outages for weeks. Entergy recently announced it is finalizing preparations for Hurricane Ida’s Sunday landfall in central Louisiana. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company that delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Entergy warned that the strength of the storm at landfall and the damage it causes will affect the time required to restore power to all customers. Forecasters expect the hurricane to bring severe thunderstorms, strong winds, heavy rains, high tides and coastal flooding to portions of Louisiana.
The company currently has a workforce of 7,000 ready to restore service for customers whose power may be affected by Ida, and is working to acquire additional mutual-assistance resources to support restoration efforts.
Entergy will make special efforts to keep restoration workers safe while preparing to restore service. The company will relocate personnel and equipment away from the impact area to ensure their safety. Additionally, crews have added flood protections for equipment in other areas that could see high water. High-water vehicles, rear-alley machines, marsh buggies, drones and helicopters and have also been secured to assist in restoration efforts.
Significant flooding and other accessibility challenges due to the storm will affect the company’s ability to reach some areas and could delay restoration in those communities. The company advised that when restoration starts, keep in mind that if you don’t see Entergy’s crew working near you, they may be working on another part of the electrical system that you can’t see but must be repaired to get power to you.
Every storm is unique. Based on historical restoration times, customers in the direct path of a Category 4 hurricane can experience outages up to three weeks and beyond three weeks for a Category 5 hurricane. Once the storm passes, Entergy says it will keep customers informed regarding restoration efforts. While 90% of customers will be restored sooner, customers in the hardest-hit area should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages.
Entergy wants customers to stay informed, and be prepared with ways to communicate with the company amid high call volume times. The company said when restoration begins, customers may experience delays when calling its telephone centers, especially from unaffected areas, due to overloading of the system with outage calls. Entergy encourages customers to use these other means to interact during restoration:
- Download the free app for your smartphone at entergy.com/app.
- Sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest.
- Visit the Entergy Storm Center website and the View Outages page.
- Follow the company on Twitter.com/entergy or Facebook.com/entergy.
- Call Entergy at 1-800-9OUTAGE (1-800-968-8243).
- Follow updates in your local news media, like radio, television and newspapers.
Entergy is also urging residents to stay safe by following specific safety guidelines, such as keeping a safe distance from any and all downed power lines and flooded areas.
The company also pointed out that responding simultaneously to a major storm and COVID-19 could affect their response. Along with standard storm preparations, Entergy employees continue navigating the pandemic by taking additional steps such as traveling separately if necessary, adjusting crew staging locations and greater use of drones. Due to the additional measures crews must take, restoration may take longer, especially where there are widespread outages. Crews will continue to practice social distancing and asks that customers do the same, by keeping a safe distance from work zones.
The company also released its restoration protocols, which begin with restoring essential services such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police departments, and water systems first, along with company equipment that supplies electricity to large numbers of customers. Then it will concentrate resources on getting the greatest number of customers back the fastest. The company can’t use its bucket trucks until sustained winds are less than 30 mph, but can still begin restoring service to customers by closing circuit breakers, rerouting power and other actions. You may see trucks, other vehicles and workers lined up while they are processed into Entergy’s system, taking inventory of equipment and personnel and giving a complete safety orientation.
Entergy stated that repairs begin with major lines to the substations, then to the lines and equipment serving neighborhoods, businesses and homes. Service lines to individual homes and businesses will be restored last because fewer customers are involved, and in the case of fewer outages spread over larger areas, it often takes more time to get power back on for them. Significant flooding and other accessibility challenges due to the storm will affect the company’s ability to reach some areas of our territory and could delay restoration in those communities. When restoration starts, keep in mind that if you don’t see Entergy working near you, the company may be working on another part of the electrical system that you can’t see but must be repaired to get power to you. As safety is always the highest of priorities, and as the company assesses the damage, they’ll begin restoring service where it is deemed safe to do so.
The company added that keeping workers safe is its main priority during the restoration process. Weather forecasts and computer models based on knowledge from past storms are used to predict the estimated number of customers without power and the number of days needed to restore power. Power is restored faster in areas with less damage. Some of the hardest-hit areas may take longer, which should be factored into your personal storm plan. Once the storm passes, the company can fully assess the damage and will have more information to share.