Tent city rises in effort to restore power after Ida
A “tent city” is housing more than 1,000 linemen from across the country working to restore electricity after Hurricane Ida. (Sept. 24)
It has been 45 days since Hurricane Ida lashed Terrebonne and Lafourche and Kayin Chaisson still doesn’t have power.
“I hope my neighbors aren’t getting aggravated because we’re the only people on the street still running on a generator,” the resident of Cut Off said. “It’s so loud you can hear it down the whole street.”
Chaisson is one of 380 customers in Lafourche who still lacks electricity after the Category 4 storm made landfall Aug. 29. About 765 customers in Terrebonne also don’t have power, according to Entergy.
Because gas prices have jumped in recent weeks, Chaisson said she is spending over $200 a week to keep her generator running.
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“I didn’t get any help from FEMA, so I’ve been paying out of pocket for all of my gas and food,” she said. “Me and my fiancé have been doing any kind of jobs we can find just to make a little money to afford the gas for the generator. I’m borrowing the generator from my grandmother, so it’s not like I even have my own. It’s been rough. We’re just waiting on Entergy.”
Entergy spokesman Brandon Scardigli said the only storm outages remaining are in hard-to-reach areas that took direct hits from the storm.
The Lake Fields area near Lockport and areas west of 107th Street in south Lafourche will be energized by Nov. 10. Areas in Terrebonne along parts of La. 311 and La. 24 will have power restored by Oct. 25, Entergy said.
Linemen and other workers are continuing to set new poles, hang wires and install hardware, Entergy CEO Phillip May said.
“I want to assure our customers in these communities that we’ll continue to give it all to not only restore power but also strengthen the electric system ahead of future storms,” May said. “The storm may have knocked us down, but together, we’ll continue to pick up the pieces and stand again, stronger than before.”
Though 99% of Terrebonne residents have been restored, several structures cannot be energized yet because of the amount of damage they sustained, Emergency Preparedness Director Earl Eues said.
“Those that do not have electricity are basically due to the damage of their structures,” Eues said. “They won’t be able to have electricity back on until those structures are repaired.”
‘A long process’
Chaisson said her electricity was knocked out after a tree fell and crushed a utility pole.
“So the tree had to be removed first and then the power pole had to be removed and replaced,” she said. “It took a little while for the landlord, who is my brother, to come up with the money that he needed, but he was also affected by the storm. It’s just been a long process of trying to get everything together.”
Port Fourchon, a service base in south Lafourche that serves more than 90% of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas platforms, was ground zero for the hurricane.
About 700 linemen are working to restore power at the port, officials said. However, Entergy has been delayed by issues caused by repairing transmission lines.
“While service has been restored to most customers in Port Fourchon who can safely accept it, work continues to increase the resiliency of the electric system in the area,” Entergy said. “Crews are installing distribution equipment that meets the most up-to-date design standards. Among steps being taken, crews are installing class-one utility poles with extra hardened footings for critical power lines in the area.”
The new structures at Port Fourchon are designed to withstand 150 mph winds, Entergy said.
“The distribution wood poles Entergy installs today are generally 60% to 140% stronger in relation to bending moments than the poles Entergy would have used five to 10 years ago in an effort to harden the distribution system in our coastal areas,” the company said .
Using temporary generators, Entergy was able to restore some power to hard-hit Grand Isle on Sept. 15. The company said it plans to deploy more generators to help power additional parts of the island as linemen continue to restore permanent power.
Work continues on Grand Isle
Entergy said it is trying to increase the resiliency to Grand Isle’s electric grid by setting utility poles inside steel pipes 15 feet into the ground along main roads to offset the island’s sandy foundation.
Residents still without power in areas that have been restored should check for damage to the electrical equipment attached to their home or business and contact an electrician to make needed repairs, Entergy said.
To find out what equipment is yours and what equipment belongs to Entergy, visit entergy.com/weatherhead. If damage has been repaired by a qualified electrician, call Entergy at 1-866-557-4240 between 8 am and 5 pm weekdays.
Entergy officials will be in Golden Meadow to answer questions and address concerns from 9 am to 3 pm Oct. 14 to 107 Jervis Drive.
— Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.