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AEP employees fighting high water, heat, other hazards to restore power in New Orleans area

by on September 5, 2012
Indiana Michigan Power crews work at a location with high water in the New Orleans area.Photo provided by Doug Hiatt

Employee and contract crews from AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power and Public Service Company of Oklahoma have been working since August 31 in the New Orleans area assisting Entergy in power restoration after the impact of Hurricane Isaac.

After Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) sustained only minimal damage from the weakened remnants of Isaac, AEP crews that had been sent to assist in SWEPCO service territory were released August 31 to travel further south.

Approximately 205 company distribution line plus 58 support employees and 415 contract workers, plus about 283 contract tree workers, are assigned at various work locations, mainly in the New Orleans area.

Despite continued high water conditions in many areas, Entergy has been making progress in power restoration and expects to release the AEP crews by Thursday, according to Jim Nowak, emergency restoration planning manager for AEP.

Driving in heavy traffic, detours and slow travel progress due to high water and flooding, and heat indexes above 100 degrees have been the main safety hazards and challenges for AEP workers so far. They have also been on guard for poisonous snakes, spiders, rats and alligators. 

Most AEP crews were initially assigned power restoration work in the Belle Chasse area. AEP Texas crews worked in the hard-hit Plaquemines Parish area, and other AEP crews were also assigned work in that area later in the weekend.

In Plaquemines Parish, high water is still a major problem, requiring that crews make a 15-mile detour that added three hours of travel time to work locations on Monday. Part of the travel was over a gravel levee that would allow only one lane of travel at a time, at 10 mph. PSO crews were working in Port Sulphur, La. and also reported flooded roadways and difficult travel. Due to the conditions, plans were made for utility trucks to be left at work sites and crews to be bused back and forth from their lodging sites.

As of late Monday, Sept. 3, Entergy reported restoring 92 percent of its customers, or 712,193, that had initially lost power due to Hurricane Isaac (peak customers out were 769,000). An estimated 56,807 remained without power, including 51,699 in Entergy – Louisiana.

From → AEP In The News

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