Crews busy working to restore power

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

With power outages across Brookhaven and Lincoln Coutny as aresult of Hurricane Gustav, electric company officials are askingthe public to be patient as they try to assess and prioritize thedamage.

“I can tell you it’s probably going to be a couple of daysbefore we have everything back up, and we hope to wrap everythingup by Thursday,” said Entergy Customer Account Manager KennyGoza.

Goza said Entergy’s outages began Monday morning, and thecompany has about 153 cases of trouble, as well as about 5,000customers without power in Lincoln and Copiah counties. He saidcontract crews, as well as regular Entergy workers, have been outtrying to get things back up and running.

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“This is the second-largest storm our company has ever seen,” hesaid. “Due to the magnitude of the storm, we’ve had 825,000customers out in our entire system and we’re trying to direct ourefforts to get the services restored as we can. So far we’re doingpretty good managing the effort to get everybody where they need tobe.”

Magnolia EPA Member Services Director Lucy Shell said theiroutages began as early as 5:30 a.m. Monday, caused by the winds andfalling limbs produced by the storm system.

“Our guys did work all day,” she said. “We lost electricity andpower all throughout the day, but we kept them out until the windsgot too high and it was a safety issue. As a result, we called themin around 5 p.m. for safety reasons.”

Shell said additional workers were brought in to do work on thelines as well as the phones.

“All our guys reported at 6 a.m., and they’ll run a 16-hour workday” Shell said Tuesday

Magnolia workers also manned the phones throughout the night andextra phone workers were brought in for Tuesday.

Both Goza and Shell said while crews are working round the clockto restore power, customers need to realize the magnitude of thework to be done.

“Please be patient with us, and be mindful of the fact that theguys are working, every time you stop them to ask them how longuntil your power is back on, it’s taking time away from working,”Goza said. “We’re already working this morning, and we willcontinue into the night to restore service, but it could be atleast Thursday before everything gets back.”

Shell said it could be as much as a week before Magnolia has alltheir problems corrected.

“It’s so unpredictable, it depends on the weather,” she saidtoday. “As of last night, we had about 4,800 meters not working,out of 5,981 that we have in Lincoln County. It’ll depend on howmuch damage there is, and it’ll be several days to a week beforeeverybody’s back on.”

Officials said part of the holdup is the weather, as crewscannot work in dangerous situations, though they have been workingin spite of fairly strong wind and rain.

“We have to assess the damage and prioritize what’s mostimportant, and we have to get our feeder lines back on before wecan get any of the taps off the main line back on,” said Goza,pointing out that while nine feeder lines were down Monday, onlyone remained Tuesday morning. “That’s what we’re working on rightnow, then we have to prioritize from there.”

Shell said there are four stations that service Arlington,Smithdale, Liberty, Gillsburg and Osyka that must be fixed inconjunction with Entergy.

A recording on the answering service for Southwest MississippiElectric Power Association Tuesday reported 12,000 outages in theirarea. Southwest, too, has contract workers in the area to assistwith the repairs, but the recording said all outages are notexpected to be fixed for three days.