One week after Hurricane Rita made landfall along the Texas coast, TXU Electric Delivery declared the Hurricane Rita restoration effort in East Texas complete with all homes and business able to accept service back on line. Over 200,000 customers were affected by the storm with more than 100,000 out of electric service at the peak. In terms of customer impact, Hurricane Rita is the most damaging storm experienced by TXU in its Eastern region, and the second most damaging storm experienced by TXU overall.
"We thank the citizens of East Texas for their patience and kindness," said Brenda Pulis, senior vice president, TXU Electric Delivery. "To the crews who worked safely for long hours in difficult conditions to accomplish this goal, you are admired and appreciated."
In one week, TXU Electric Delivery mobilized more than 2600 employees and contractors to rebuild transmission and distribution systems buffeted by 50-75 miles per hour winds. An estimated 700 trucks rolled into East Texas, including the hard hit Lufkin and Nacogdoches areas where 90 percent of customers were without power. These trucks brought damage assessors, tree trimmers, line workers, support personnel, and administrative staff to provide additional support to the local TXU employees in the storm-ravaged region. Team members worked in 12-16 hour shifts, most sleeping only when darkness forced the work to stop. Restoration teams systematically attacked the damage, moving personnel into position in Lufkin and Nacogdoches.
"Our experiences with Hurricane Katrina prepared us for Hurricane Rita," said Pulis. "We knew not to count on anything being available to us in disaster zones."
As such, the TXU Electric Delivery workforce was self-sustaining, bringing its own fuel, supplies, tents, cots, food, mechanics, medical personnel and other essentials along. As teams established camps in Lufkin and Nacogdoches, crews slept in a shuttered paper mill and staged trucks in a college commuter parking lot. The support of local citizens and businesses was overwhelming.
Dense forest, hills, and hundreds of damaged cross arms, downed lines and broken and leaning poles proved daunting, but crews steadily improved the number of customers with service each day. On Sunday, Oct. 2, they finished the job, restoring electricity to thousands of East Texas residents.
Despite these efforts, some residents in TXU Electric Delivery's East Texas area may still be without electricity today because meters or related equipment in their homes or businesses are too damaged to receive power. Residents should arrange for the necessary electrical repairs and city inspections to ensure TXU Electric Delivery can provide service. Once completed, customers are asked to call the number on their electric bill to restore power. Additionally, crews will be in the area next week to remove damaged poles, wires and other equipment damaged following Hurricane Rita.