Progress Energy sent more than 650 employees and contractors, including more than 350 line & service personnel, to Texas this weekend to assist with restoration efforts after Hurricane Rita. More than 400 of those personnel are from Progress Energy Carolinas.
As part of Progress Energy's mutual-aid agreement with the regional utility companies that comprise the Southeastern Electric Exchange, crews will depart from various North Carolina and South Carolina locations this weekend and travel to Beaumont, Texas, to assist Entergy Corp. in its restoration efforts. Some tree contractors will also assist CenterPoint Energy in Texas. In addition, some damage assessment and staging and logistics teams are traveling ahead of the line, service and tree personnel to prepare staging locations to support the restoration effort.
"Progress Energy is preparing to face devastation similar to Hurricane Katrina, and we will take the lessons we learned in Louisiana to Texas," said Lee Mazzocchi, Progress Energy Carolinas' system storm coordinator. "We and our customers know how important it is to have as many people as possible helping to get the lights back on, and we are glad that we can assist other utilities in their restoration efforts, as they have assisted us in the past."
Support personnel, who always play a major role in storm restoration, will be especially important during Hurricane Rita because of the logistical challenges of this storm, which follows so closely behind Hurricane Katrina. Fuel and tire trucks, caterers, mechanics, telecommunications personnel and others will accompany crews to the affected areas.
Rita is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning near the Texas-Louisiana border, and damage is expected to be severe and widespread.
"We appreciate our customers' continued patience on service requests that don't involve outages or emergencies, as our crews are away assisting those in need," Mazzocchi said. "We're committed to ensuring any delays are minimal in those non-emergency situations."