ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. (WVUE) - Hurricane Zeta brought the expected widespread power outages with a half a million Entergy customers in the dark at its peak. The company’s leadership said manpower combined with modern technology helped bring that number down in a matter of days. Many are pleasantly surprised including some officials that so many people already have the lights back on less than a week after Zeta.
St. Bernard Parish President Guy Mcinnis said, “We were hit pretty hard with these winds and the major thing was the power outages, but one of the most positive things about it also is that our power is coming on pretty quickly.”
More than 90 percent of those that went dark are back on the grid. Kirk Lepine, Plaquemines Parish President, noted, “The crews are working very hard.”
Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Phillip May said having the manpower is important having ramped up the 5800 linemen staged before the storm to about 6200 after. May said Tuesday afternoon November 3, 2020, “We’re making good progress. We still have 37,000 customers out so our focus is on that 37,000 customers.”
He said one group helped them get started on the right foot. The assessor scouts that look for damage immediately after the storm. “People that were going get eyes on our system and figure out exactly what we have to fix,” said May.
Another improvement in recent years is the addition of drone teams. May said, “Now you have drones you can fly along those lines and you can get very specific details on what’s wrong with the system based on those drone flights.”
Having the drones solves the problem with getting around fallen trees and fences. “The key that we’ve found is the better we assess what we have to fix up front the more quickly we can get the power on,” said May.
May said having a plan really speeds up the process even if it takes a little extra time on the front end. He said, “The first day may have less turned on than if we were just going crazy, but it means day two, three and four are outstanding.”
Smart technology within the grid and at individual properties also help pinpoint issues. “Is it a specific device? Is it something closer to the home and so that helps us come up with a strategic plan,” according to May.
Lepine said, “We’ve asked our people to be patient with the electricity if you don’t have it it is coming at least we have some nice cool weather so that’s a plus that we are not in July or August.”
May cautions anyone still without power and using a generator to follow directions closely.
He said he believes most customers in the metro area will be back online by Wednesday. Areas south and east with more extensive damage will take another week.
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