More than 1,500 linemen being housed at facility in Hammond

More than 1,500 out-of-state linemen are being housed at a facility in Hammond, La. while they...
More than 1,500 out-of-state linemen are being housed at a facility in Hammond, La. while they help restore power across south Louisiana.(WAFB)
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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HAMMOND, La. (WAFB) - Nearly half a million people in Louisiana are still waiting for their lights to come back on just one week after Hurricane Ida tore through the state.

In some areas, like Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, it’s expected to take a while to get customers back online. It’s one of the many reasons why more than 25,000 linemen from across the country are right in south Louisiana to help.

“That’s what he loves to do but take care of who takes care of you,” said Donna Johnson, mom of a lineman from Tennessee.

Her son, Jesse, came down to Louisiana from Tennessee to help utility crews restore power after Ida. But she added the living and food situation has been less than ideal for her son.

“They (the state) need to prepare for the ones who have to come in here and help rebuild their cities. They’re going to keep on working until these people’s electricity is back on or restored. But you know, there’s people there that could also take care of the guys down there. This is a natural disaster and everybody needs to help,” explained Johnson.

She found out her son and the other linemen he was with were living out of their trucks for a few days after the storm and didn’t have many necessities until one woman stepped in.

“At least some of them got to shower and I’m hoping that they actually got to stretch out and lay down just a little,” said Johnson.

One volunteer site has been set up in Hammond.

“We’ve got so many outages in the state of Louisiana and in this area that we’ve had to bring outside crews in for help,” said Beau Blankenship with Entergy. “Those crews need support to live by, to eat, to shower, to sleep. This site has been set up for 1,500 employees.”

Organizers set up special trailers for miles, which can hold about 16 workers each. More than 1,000 linemen are making do at the facility between trips to the Capital Area and the Northshore.

“They’ve set up housing; they’ve set up generators,” said Warren Davie, with Davie Shoring Incorporated. “They have their own water and sewer. And they’ve also set up their own tents and their air conditioning. And I’ve actually let them use part of my building for storage and that’s where they are feeding everybody.”

Some linemen said the first few days are always rough but that Louisiana hospitality always pulls through.

“Every day gets better,” said Michael Watson, a lineman from North Carolina. “So, when you first arrive, you’re sleeping out of your car. But as every piece of equipment arrives, your life gets a little bit better.”

“The community down here is great,” added Justin Dassylva, another lineman. The food, it’s good stuff. I like that Cajun stuff.”

RELATED: Organizations team up to feed, shelter linemen working in Louisiana

There’s a Facebook group called FEED LINEMEN - TELL US WHERE YOU ARE SO WE CAN BRING YOU FOOD AND WATER.

“I started this Group because I read comments about Linemen not being able to find food,” said the group’s founder. “They are working hard to get our communities up and running. If you see linemen on your street, please bring them water and snacks. RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS!”

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