Dominion repair crews sent south to help with the restoration of electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are working in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, restoring electric facilities around Louis Armstrong International Airport.
Dominion, one of the nation's largest energy companies, provided 260 linemen and support staff for the relief effort. The crews spent much of their time Sunday and Monday restoring power to a hospital and the runway lights at the airport, which has been used as a hospital. The company also released 300 contractor linemen and tree trimmers to assist with the restoration.
"I've been in this business for 30 years, and I've never seen this much devastation," said Wade Briggs of Virginia Beach, who is leading the Dominion contingent. "What we are seeing is catastrophic damage to the electric infrastructure. There are miles and miles of line to be rebuilt.
"Our guys are pretty understanding of the work conditions. We've been on both sides of these storms," Briggs said, adding that his team is being housed temporarily in a church annex with limited facilities. The team expects to be in a hotel by the end of the week.
Because of the massive line restoration and pole replacement needed, the company is sending another eight auger trucks to complement the more than 90 vehicles Dominion already has on the ground.
With this commitment of manpower to Louisiana, Dominion asks its Virginia and northeastern North Carolina electric customers to be aware that hookups and routine work might be delayed. The company will continue to respond to customer needs and strive to minimize delays.
All but nine of Dominion's 440 New Orleans-based employees of its Exploration and Production offshore unit have been accounted for in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Three E&P employees, unable to make contact because many phones are out of order, checked in by contacting Dominion line crews.
Dominion is relocating all of the affected employees and their families to its Houston E&P offices on an interim basis and is providing temporary housing and furnishings. The company also has set up a set up a special relief fund so that fellow Dominion employees can make contributions to assist their friends and coworkers.
In addition to providing repair crews and assisting affected employees, Dominion is contributing up to a total of $250,000 to the ongoing relief efforts, including $100,000 to The Salvation Army. The company also is matching employee gifts to eligible hurricane relief organizations.