Despite outages, Entergy says it's ready for hurricane season

Despite outages, Entergy says it's ready for hurricane season

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Entergy said it's prepared for hurricane season, which begins June 1, despite thousands of outages that occurred early Tuesday morning during a rain storm.

In the lower Garden District, Entergy crews worked at midday to get power back on on on Magazine Street near Erato.

"It was a big explosion, and it's the second time this month. The last storm, we didn't have electricity for 24 hours - same place - so whatever it is you'd think they'd fix it right, but they haven't yet," said Keith Kron.

Right down the block is coffee shop French Truck.

"Today we had to turn away over 40 customers, and it's just a two-block area," said Geoffrey Meeker.

Meeker and others in the area said with the outages they experience now, they hate to think what would happening during a tropical storm or hurricane.

"We usually find that [wind] between 10 and 20 mph is all it takes for this particular part of the city to go down with no power," he said.

Entergy said it has put a lot of work into preparations should a major storm hit the area.

"We test our people and our processes and our communications systems to make sure everybody's prepared for the storm," said Melonie Stewart, Entergy's customer service director.

She said Entergy has contracts to bring in some 10,000 utility workers from other states to assist in power restoration following a big storm. But the kind of widespread outages hurricanes can cause require patience on the public's part.

"At a Category 1 it takes about seven days, 10 days in a Category 2 and 14 in a Category 3," Stewart said.

At the Magazine Street coffee house, Meeker expressed frustration. He said not only did he have to turn away customers, he also was unableto  provide coffee for 50 restaurants and other types of businesses that depend on his services.

"Twenty-four hours to repair the last time.This time it was six hours, and that was with us giving them very specific instructions about which pole was affected and where they needed to come," he said.

Others said it is time to move wiring underground to protect it from strong winds.

"We have so many trees and lines on top of the ground, there's no way they can do it. They need to go underground with all of our wiring, this is crazy," said Kron.

It is an idea Entergy has looked at seriously following the protracted outages after Isaac.

"What we call it is strategic undergrounding, so you want to look at areas that are more prone to outages and see if you can strategically place some of those lines underground to prevent future outages. We are working on some of that right now," Stewart said.

She said placing power lines underground has its problems, too.

"So one of the drawbacks to underground wires are in areas that are prone to flooding, it is more difficult to access those lines when you have an  outage and it is more timely to repair when you have an outage," Stewart said.

She said there are no such wiring projects underway.

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