Crews still working to get power on

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 4, 2009

Thousands of Lincoln County and Brookhaven residents were stillwithout power Monday in the aftermath of severe weather thatcrashed through the area late Sunday morning.

Local power company officials said the storm that hit Brookhavenand Lincoln County had an unexpected ferocity that could keep manyarea residents still without power, possibly into Monday night.

“The South Jackson Street area took an almost Katrina-like hit,”said Entergy Customer Accounts Manager Kenny Goza on Monday. “Wehave crews over there working today.”

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Goza said at the height of Sunday’s storm, around 7,000 Entergycustomers were without power. And even with crews out working allday Sunday, there were still about 4,000 out Monday morning.

Magnolia Electric Power Association Member Services DirectorLucy Shell said about 3,500 of its members were out at the heightof the storm, but that since their service areas tend to be morerural than Entergy’s, they usually take more damage.

“It’s a little backwards from the way it usually happens, butthe way this storm came, it hit Brookhaven,” she said. “It hit theareas in the city with all those big trees.”

Meanwhile, Southwest Mississippi Electric Power AssociationPublic Relations Director Azalea Knight said there are still about550 meters in Lincoln County that are down after the storm. Shesaid Southwest officials hope to have them all restored Mondaynight.

“I’ll be honest, they’re shooting for this afternoon but thereare some isolated places that may be tomorrow before they’re backon,” Knight said Monday. “We’ve got 25 additional people in to helpus with the restoration today.”

Power company spokespeople said most of the areas that had lostpower were as a result of broken power lines and power poles.

“Probably yesterday at max we had 12-15 broken poles, and that’sa lot. That takes a lot of time to fix,” Goza said Monday. “We’rehopefully shooting for late tonight to have everything backon.”

Knight said Southwest also had eight broken poles reported.

Shell said Magnolia officials also hope to have their membersrestored by Monday evening. Both Entergy and Magnolia are not onlyusing their own manpower, but also contract crews from all over thestate.

“We have contract crews that work on special projects that havecome up here,” she said. “They worked through the night, andthey’re out there working today. Everyone should be back on by theend of the day.”

Goza said the worst part of the outage came around 1:30 to 2p.m. Sunday. He said Entergy service areas in Lincoln, Copiah,Lawrence and Jeff Davis counties were affected by the storm.

Officials thanked customers for their patience and asked thatwhere there are places where trees are down with power lines inthem, people should use extreme caution and wait for qualifiedworkers to free the lines. There are still areas where the lineshave not been freed, and trees will act as conductors, officialssaid.

“Almost every call we got during the storm was about a tree on aline somewhere,” Knight said.