Area continuing recovery from Isaac

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, September 2, 2012

With many local residents still without power, there won’t be a long Labor Day weekend for energy companies and their work crews.

     At least not a long holiday weekend.

     “Oh, we’ll be laboring,” said Southwest Electric Power Association spokesperson Azalea Knight with a laugh.

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     Recovery efforts from Hurricane Isaac continued Saturday, but there remained much to be done.

     About 2,500 Entergy customers were still in the dark in the Brookhaven area as of Saturday evening, said Entergy spokesman Kenny Goza. He reaffirmed estimates that power won’t be restored to all customers in the area until Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

      “I just hope people are patient,” Goza said.

     Crews were working Saturday, and will be out Sunday and Monday as well, Goza said.

     “Till we finish,” Goza said.

     The Southwest Electric Power Association still had 877 members with no power early Saturday evening, Knight said.

     Knight said these numbers should be quite a bit lower by Sunday and estimated power should be back for all or most meters by Sunday afternoon or Monday.

     Magnolia Electric Power Association still had 1,262 meters without power early Saturday, said company spokesperson Lucy Shell.

     Shell also advised members to continue preparing for an extended outage.

     Work was proceeding fairly smoothly, though some Saturday afternoon thunderstorms caused unforeseen problems for energy company crews.

     With the ground still soft from the rainfall Isaac brought in, Saturday’s wind and rain sent several more trees and branches down, Knight said. In some cases, this took out lines that crews had already restored.

     A fallen tree in Lawrence County and thunderstorms in Amite County also knocked some Magnolia power lines back out, said Shell.

     For Southwest, more falling debris sent the number of Lincoln County outages from 130 on Friday to 877 on Saturday.

     Progress is being made, though. Magnolia’s system-wide outage numbers dipped below 5,000 Saturday.

     “That’s huge,” Shell said.

     Energy company representatives were also offering residents advice on how they can help power restoration efforts.

     Shell asked citizens to not stop crews while they’re working to talk or ask questions. Crews may not be familiar with the areas they’re working in and won’t be able to provide much information.

     Shell said interruptions only slow the power restoration process down.

     Officials have also warned that plugging a generator directly into a wall outlet in a home can damage electrical wiring and send power into dead lines outside the home, thus endangering work crews.

     However, crews haven’t experienced any problems with improperly plugged-in generators juicing up downed power lines so far, Goza said.

     Crews were also working Saturday night to open city and county roads, but some remained closed.

     “There’s a few (roads) in the city and county that still had trees on them because there are power lines in them,” Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said Saturday night.

     Friday, six or seven roads within the Brookhaven city limits remained closed. Saturday, that number had dropped to just a few, said Assistant Police Chief Bobby Bell.

     Local authorities distributed ice and water to residents still without power Friday. By Saturday, Galey said all emergency water and ice supplies had been dispensed except for a few bags of ice at the Bogue Chitto Volunteer Fire Department.

     There are no plans to more ice and water available, Galey said.