Powering Strong Communities

Public Power Mutual Aid Crews Deploy In Advance Of Hurricane Ida

Public power utility crews from nine states deployed to Louisiana in the days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, August 29 as a category 4 hurricane resulting in widespread power outages in the state.

According to Poweroutage.us, Louisiana had just over one million customers without power as of the morning of Monday, Aug. 30. Ida knocked out power to New Orleans. The city reported on Aug. 29 that all eight transmission lines that deliver power into the New Orleans area were currently out of service. When this occurred, it caused a load imbalance in the area and resulted in generation in the area coming offline. The city is served by investor-owned utility Entergy.

Public power utilities deployed 65 crews and 300 personnel to Louisiana from the following states:

  • Missouri
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Oklahoma
  • Georgia
  • Nebraska
  • Kentucky

Public Power Crews Deployed Prior To Ida’s Arrival

On Friday, Aug. 27, utility electric line crews from Missouri public power communities started preparations to leave for Louisiana. Organized by the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA), lineworker crews from Missouri cities were traveling to Alexandria, La., to be ready for power restoration after the storm passes. Preparedness coordinators for the City of Alexandria issued a call on Thursday to MPUA for mutual aid assistance, and the crews departed for Louisiana the morning of Saturday, August 28.

The combined response of 32 lineworkers involves crews from the seven Missouri cities of Carthage, Higginsville, Independence, Lebanon, Nixa, Palmyra, and Poplar Bluff.

The workers will stage in Alexandria, La., equipped with eight bucket trucks, four digger/derrick trucks, and 11 other utility vehicles and machines, ready to restore power to Alexandria’s municipal utility after the storm passes.

Mutual aid crews from Missouri public power utilities assisted Alexandria and other area utilities twice in storm recoveries last year, repairing damage caused by Hurricane Laura (August 2020) and Hurricane Delta (October 2020).

Missouri’s utility mutual aid response is coordinated through MPUA’s mutual aid network. Assisting cities are reimbursed by the municipal utilities receiving assistance.

MPUA’s mutual aid network is part of a national public power mutual aid network coordinated by the American Public Power Association (APPA).

On the afternoon of Aug. 30, MPUA reported that utility electric line crews from Missouri communities were en route to southwest Mississippi to perform power restoration work after damage from Ida.

Organized by MPUA, lineworker crews from Missouri cities were relocating to an area of southwest Mississippi hard hit by the storm.

The line crews will assist the Southwest Electric Cooperative, which serves a nine-county area that includes Natchez, Miss., where they will be based as they work. The workers arrive equipped with bucket trucks, digger/derrick trucks, and other utility vehicles and machines used for power restoration work.

MPUA noted that after Ida struck New Orleans and southeast Louisiana Sunday night, the path of the hurricane carried it further to the northeast through the Mississippi River valley, continuing to cause extensive damage as it cruised further inland.

Meanwhile, a crew from Oklahoma’s Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) headed to Lafayette, La., to help repair any damage Ida may cause to that city’s electric system.

The GRDA crew of 20 volunteers, including powerline maintenance and vegetation management personnel, mechanics and law enforcement, left Pryor at 6 a.m. Saturday morning to make the nearly 600-mile drive to the Lafayette area. The crew planned to be staged on Sunday and ready to move in for any possible repair work as soon as Ida passes through the area.

The trip is a familiar one, as GRDA also provided aid to Lafayette Utilities Systems (LUS) in October 2020, after Hurricane Delta made landfall, GRDA noted.

Along with Hurricane Delta and now Ida, GRDA has also helped restore power and provide water rescue assistance following Hurricanes Rita, Irma, Matthew, and Harvey. Over the years, GRDA personnel have responded to Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas to offer that aid.

GRDA is lending a hand in Louisiana as part of the nationwide APPA mutual aid effort.

South Carolina’s Santee Cooper also sent crews to help LUS. Santee Cooper, the state-owned public power utility, sent two crews to Louisiana.

On Aug. 30, Santee Cooper reported that two Santee Cooper distribution line crews were assisting Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, an electric cooperative just outside of Hattiesburg, Miss. The area was affected by Ida.

From neighboring North Carolina, the following public power communities sent crews to help LUS: Greeneville, Wilson, Statesville, High Point, Tarboro and Wake Forest.

Florida Public Power Utilities Deploy

On Aug. 27, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) said that it had assembled public power crews from across the state to aid with power restoration efforts in Louisiana following Ida.

FMEA, the mutual aid coordinator for Florida’s 33 public power utilities, said that nearly 85 personnel from seven Florida public power utilities had planned to arrive in Louisiana through Monday to assist affected communities.

Mutual aid crews from the City of Tallahassee deployed Saturday to arrive in Lafayette, Louisiana, Sunday morning before the storm to assist LUS. With LUS receiving little to no impacts from Ida, the City of Tallahassee was redeployed to the City of Houma, La.

Additional mutual assistance line crews and other field personnel from JEA in Jacksonville, Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), Kissimmee Utility Authority and Lakeland Electric were set to arrive in Lafayette on Monday to restore power.

Meanwhile, the City of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and Fort Pierce Utilities Authority sent mutual aid crews to assist utilities personnel in the City of Plaquemine, Louisiana. The Florida public power utility teams were set to deploy on Sunday to arrive in Plaquemine Monday to begin restoring power once the storm passes.

“Yesterday was Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day and we couldn’t be more thankful for the public power lineworkers and crew members who leave behind the comforts of home and their own families to help restore power in other communities that are impacted by such major natural disasters,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “Florida has many times been the recipient of mutual aid assistance when we have faced down hurricanes and other severe storms. It is always a great honor to return the favor.”

Lincoln Electric System And NPPD

Nebraska-based Lincoln Electric System (LES) deployed staff and vehicles to help utilities in Louisiana with anticipated power restoration efforts due to Hurricane Ida.

Three crews comprised of 14 LES employees were sent to Lafayette, La. LES crews deployed as the sun rose on Saturday morning, Aug. 28, and were expected to arrive in Lafayette on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a 16-man contingent of line technicians and supervisory staff from Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) will be hitting the road on Tuesday, journeying to Louisiana’s state capital of Baton Rouge to provide mutual aid and restore power.

The contingent from NPPD will be utilizing a variety of equipment used in restoration efforts, with a commitment for two weeks to assist in restoring power for Entergy. Entergy had approximately 1.3 million customers without and as of Monday afternoon had over 822,000 customers without power due to downed power lines and structures.

NPPD crews were expected to arrive Thursday to begin assistance.

Georgia Public Power Utilities Also Send Crews

Crews from the following public power communities in Georgia have also been deployed to various communities in Louisiana to assist with Ida restoration efforts:

  • LaGrange
  • Acworth
  • Griffin
  • Calhoun
  • East Point
  • Covington
  • Thomasville
  • Cairo
  • ECG

Crews From Kentucky, Tennessee Deployed To Help LUS

Crews from Kentucky public power utility Paducah Power System and the City of Paris, Tenn., and Greeneville, Tenn., also deployed to assist LUS with recovery efforts.

LUS Helps Customers Prepare For Ida

Prior to Ida’s arrival, LUS took a number of steps to help its customers prepare.

For example, the utility leveraged social media to provide customers with telephone numbers to call should they experience power outages or experience any water/wastewater issues or to report downed power lines.

LUS also provided a link to its hurricane handbook, which provides information for customers to refer to before, during, and after a storm.

LUS also utilized its social media channels to say thanks to all of the public crews that arrived in advance of Ida to assist with restoration efforts.

APPA Resources

Along with its role as a mutual aid coordinator during events such as Ida, APPA also provides a number of disaster planning and response resources including a Restoration Best Practices Guidebook and All-Hazards Guidebook.

Additional details are available here.