Entergy Louisiana Crews Return Power to Tangipahoa
Amite, La. – The end was in sight Sunday for customers still without power after a rare snowstorm Thursday crippled the electrical system and snarled transportation on roads and bridges. For the 1,000 restoration crews that converged in Tangipahoa and worked around the clock to get electricity flowing again, the electric illumination glowing from customers’ homes was a welcome sight.
“South Louisiana got snow – Tangipahoa got a blizzard,” said Craig Schimpf, Entergy Customer Service Manager for Tangipahoa Parish. “What started out as a mini-winter wonderland quickly turned into a major outage for our customers.”
The storm dumped a record eight inches of snow into the parish, depositing heavy, wet snow and ice on tree limbs and leaves. By 4 p.m. Thursday, trees and branches in the heavily-wooded parish had snapped, collapsing on the electrical system below and leaving 51,000 customers without power.
The severe snowstorm created a unique and challenging restoration environment for line crews, who are experienced at returning electricity in the wake of hurricanes and thunderstorms. Many of the downed lines were threaded through rural areas with a dense pine tree population. Crews toiled in the debris, clearing and restoring one section of line at a time. Additional Entergy line crews and contract crews from Louisiana, New Orleans, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas and tree trimmers joined the mammoth restoration effort.
“After a hurricane, we see damage from tree limbs and trees that fall onto our electrical system, which is caused primarily by high winds and tornadoes,” said Schimpf. “In this case, we were looking at the impact of a major snowstorm − and the number of branches that pulled down our electrical lines far exceeded what we see after a hurricane.”
Most customers with outages were located in clusters, scattered throughout the parish. “After hurricanes, we can restore a major line and get thousands of customers back on quickly,” Schimpf said. “In this case, the crews were working from one span of line to the next, restoring many miles of electrical line to get power back on for a few dozen customers at a time. This meant that, although we were expending enormous effort, the number of restored customers increased more slowly.”
The severe snowstorm followed on the heels of Hurricane Gustav earlier this year, one of the most destructive storms in the history of the company and the parish.
“To say that this has been a challenging year is an understatement,” Schimpf said. “Customers have experienced two record-setting events: first Gustav, and now a record snowstorm.”
“What we learned − besides the fact that snow and south Louisiana pine trees don’t mix − is how supportive customers can be when we are working to try and get things back to normal after a natural disaster. Some of the most resilient and resourceful people around live in this parish, and we appreciate everyone’s patience while we worked to get the power back on. We also appreciate the line and restoration workers − many who live here as well − for stepping up to the plate every time they are needed, no matter how often they are called or how hard the job is.”
Entergy’s Louisiana utility companies serve more than one million customers through the operating companies Entergy Louisiana, LLC and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. With operations in southern, central and northeastern Louisiana, the companies are part of Entergy Corporation’s electric system serving 2.7 million customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.