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More than 210K in Capital Area still without power; Entergy & DEMCO officials say they have to assess damage first

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The footprint of Hurricane Ida is visible as it barreled through south Louisiana Sunday night and three days later, more than 960,000 people are still without power.

According to PowerOutage.com, more than 210,000 of those outages are in the Capital Region.

Entergy sent out a message to customers Wednesday night that read, “We were able to complete 46% of damage assessment today while also making progress restoring critical infrastructures such as hospitals, nursing homes, first responder facilities and transmission lines. We will provide restoration estimates as soon as assessment is completed.”

The reason that’s important is once all that damage assessment is done, that’s when people can get an idea of how long it may take for the power to turn on.

“In terms of the Baton Rouge area, whether it will be weeks, I just don’t know until I get those full assessment reports in,” said David Freese, an Entergy spokesman.

Freese added Entergy always has to assess the damage before a timeline can be determined for when the power could be restored.

“And once we have a clearer picture, we’ll be able to provide more accurate projections as to what the estimated times of restoration are. At this point, the data is still rolling into our local networks,” explained Freese.

He said they’re getting close to that point where they can give homeowners some answers.

But Entergy is focused on restoring power to critical infrastructure first, like wire systems, pumping systems, hospitals, nursing homes, and first responder stations.

“It could be several weeks before, you know, some folks get power in some of the hardest hit areas but we will be able to restore many before that,” noted Freese.

“We’re making great progress throughout our service territory,” said David LaTona, with DEMCO.

Even with tens of thousands of their customers still in the dark, DEMCO officials said they are working hard.

“We are turning lights on, we are definitely turning lights on. Both today and yesterday, there were guys out throwing those switches, you know, getting those lights on for folks,” added LaTona.

DEMCO officials released the following information: “The order of restoring power happens by function, not by choice. Powering up following a weather incident follows the same method every time. Since every storm is different, some storms don’t incur damage at this level so we can begin at the distribution level right away. When we have damage at the transmission level, that’s an entirely different level of damage.”

Step one is to repair transmission lines that supply power to substations. Each large transmission pole serves up to 15,000 members. After transmission towers are back up, attention shifts to the substations. Repairs at this level are necessary in order for power to be distributed. Restoration to the distribution system happens next - distribution poles and main distribution lines, which service critical infrastructure such as hospitals, water towers, and sewer treatment plants.

There is lots of major work that has to happen before line crews can get to repairing lateral taps which branch from the main lines that serve the streets and neighborhoods.

“We’re looking at the same restoration time. Back then, it was a two to three-week restoration period,” explained LaTona.

In a statement posted to social media late Wednesday, Entergy says majority of customers in the Baton Rouge area can expect power to be restored by Sep. 8.

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