Louisiana’s Electric Co-ops Bring in Crews from 10 States to Assist in Historic Power Restoration Effort

Posted: August 28, 2020 at 11:27 am

BATON ROUGE (August 28, 2020) – In the wake of Hurricane Laura’s historic impact, Louisiana’s electric cooperatives have called on crews from several states to assist in what is certain to be a challenging and prolonged power restoration effort.

After Hurricane Laura, over 100,000 electric co-op consumers were without electricity due to the storm’s extensive damage to co-op electric systems and other infrastructure on the electric grid that is critical to delivering power to co-op members. Some co-ops have said that their entire systems will need to be rebuilt.

“We knew that Hurricane Laura would wreak havoc on co-op electric infrastructures, and we prepared well in advance to launch a major power restoration effort as soon as the storm subsided,” said Jeff Arnold, CEO of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC). “While that effort is underway, the rebuilding process will take time.”

“This will be a marathon, not a sprint.  To help expedite these recovery efforts, we’ve called on hundreds of additional lineworkers and other expertise from 10 states to help clear fallen trees and repair downed lines and other equipment damaged by the storm. Even so, a full recovery may take until next week or longer due to the unprecedented damage left in Laura’s wake.”

Over 500 lineworkers will be assisting Louisiana’s co-ops with storm recovery and power restoration efforts. This practice, known as mutual assistance, is a hallmark of electric cooperative storm response efforts and helps dedicate crews to locations they are most needed in order to speed recovery efforts.

As of Friday morning, ALEC had secured mutual aid from crews from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Florida, with additional assistance expected in the coming days. The COVID-19 pandemic will complicate, but not undermine, mutual assistance efforts as co-ops implement safety protocols such as social distancing and other measures that affect crew deployments and housing.
ALEC continues to urge consumer-members to put safety first and take the following steps:

  • Stay away from downed wires. Always assume they are energized. Contact the co-op to report downed wires or an outage.
  • Avoid flooded areas. Flooding is a major threat from Hurricane Laura. Flash flooding can occur suddenly due to intense rainfall. Long-term flooding along rivers and streams can persist for days following a storm. When approaching water on a roadway, remember: Don’t Drown. Turn Around.
  • Avoid crews working in the street. This will keep you and the crews safe and allow them to work on restoring your power.
  • If you plan to use a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use only when necessary. Don’t overload it and turn it off at night when you’re asleep or if you leave your home.
  • To avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, place portable generators outside in a well-ventilated area, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows. Never run a generator inside, not even in your garage. Do not connect the generator directly into your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel.
  • Protect food and refrigerated medicine with ice in an insulated cooler. If you are without power for more than two hours, refrigerated foods should be placed in a cooler. Foods will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if the door remains closed, and a half-full freezer will generally keep frozen foods for up to 24 hours. Check foodsafety.gov to learn more about when to throw out or keep food after a power outage.
  • Turn off power to flood-prone appliances if it is safe to do so. However, if you have an electric sump pump, you should not turn off the power.
  • Tune in to local news broadcasts for the latest weather and emergency information.