The news is filled with nature’s growing fury. In Louisiana and Texas, Hurricane Laura has left a wake of destruction and hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses without power.
Entergy, the regional utility, is working to get power restored, but the task is daunting.
According to the utility, Hurricane Laura “will go down in the record books as the strongest storm to hit Louisiana” in over 150 years. A category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 miles per hour, Entergy says Laura is the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States.
The utility and its customers felt the storm’s wrath. Laura devastated Entergy’s distribution and transmission systems across Louisiana and Texas. The two-state territory experienced 568,000 outages. The utility experienced 616,000 outages across its entire service area.
Because of the devastation, Entergy expects the recovery to be an unprecedented challenge. Damage to the transmission system in Louisiana amassed close to 146 transmission lines and 184 substations. In Texas, damage included close to 63 transmission lines and 57 substations.
The utility has had to resort to using “special equipment” to dismantle mangled structures made up of steel, concrete and tensioned wires. Crews are performing major construction and repairs across land and water.
Hardest hit is the Lake Charles, La., area, where all nine transmission lines delivering power into the area were knocked out of service as a result of the damage.
The utility is making progress. As of September 17, 2020, Entergy reports that power has been made available to nearly 90% of the essential customers in southwest Louisiana that can safely accept it, including most hospitals and water and waste treatment plants. Power outages have also been reduced in Louisiana’s Calcasieu and Cameron parishes to about 32,000, from a peak of 93,000.
The company has brought in 25,314 workers from 31 states to help with the recovery. Majority restoration to all areas of southwestern Louisiana may come as late as September 30.