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Utilities in the South Prepare for Hurricane Laura

Aug. 26, 2020
Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts will spread well inland across portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana early on Aug. 27, according to the National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center
Entergy on Aug. 26 said that the Entergy Arkansas storm team is finalizing its storm preparations to respond to any impacts across Arkansas from Hurricane Laura, which, as the company noted, is predicted to strike near the Texas/Louisiana border late Aug. 26 or early Aug. 27 as a Category 4 hurricane.According to the National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s “Advisory 27,” as of 10 a.m., CDT, on Aug. 26, hurricane-force winds are expected on the evening of Aug. 26 in portions of the hurricane warning area from San Luis Pass, Texas, to west of Morgan City, La., with catastrophic wind damage expected where Laura’s eyeball makes landfall.Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts will spread well inland across portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana early on Aug. 27, the advisory said.Entergy said that Entergy Arkansas is working to amass a workforce of nearly 1,200 restoration workers to respond to possible impacts, noting that the company has reciprocal agreements with other utilities through which they help one another after major weather events. Workers will be staged in strategic locations to respond to outages after the storm has passed, Entergy said, adding that crews will focus on restoring emergency services first, and will then prioritize work according to which repairs will restore power to the greatest number of customers.Entergy Arkansas employees are navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic by taking such precautions as traveling separately when possible, wearing masks when necessary, and generally following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, all of which can add to the time required to complete work, Entergy said, adding that the company requests that customers keep their distance from workers in the field, for safety and health reasons.The company said that customers can stay informed by, for instance, downloading the Entergy App.American Electric Power’s Southwestern Electric Power Co., (SWEPCO) on Aug. 25 advised customers to prepare for the storm, noting that customers who are on life support systems or need uninterrupted electric service for health reasons should make alternate arrangements in preparation for potential power outages.The company said that it has secured more than 1,000 line and tree personnel to assist its crews in responding to power outages that may be caused by Hurricane Laura across the company’s three-state service territory. SWEPCO said that it will position crews to safely restore power to customers as quickly as possible.Customers may report and track outages by, for instance, using the SWEPCO app, available for download via the App Store or Google Play, SWEPCO said. The company also noted that customers should create an emergency outage kit that includes flashlights, fresh batteries, battery powered radios or televisions, water, non-perishable food, and a manual can opener.Separately on Aug. 25, NextEra Energy said that Florida Power & Light (FPL) has deployed more than 300 employees and contractors to assist Entergy’s Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Texas with their restoration efforts.Due to the pandemic, crews will follow safety guidelines to keep everyone safe, including social distancing, increased sanitation measures, and wearing masks where appropriate, the company said, adding that signs on trucks remind the public to honor the six-feet social distancing requirements that help keep the crews safe while they work.FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy noted in the statement, in part, that 600 FPL lineworkers and contractors earlier this month helped restore power to New Jersey citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaias.Also on Aug. 25, CenterPoint Energy said that it has been preparing for potential impacts from Hurricane Laura, and encouraged customers to have an emergency plan in place, particularly if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment.CenterPoint said that in response to COVID-19, it implemented its Pandemic Preparedness Plan to help ensure safe and reliable delivery of energy and services to homes and businesses, adding that in the event of a hurricane, the company will continue to take the necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of customers, employees, contractors and communities.The company urged customers to follow important pre- and post-storm electric and natural gas safety tips, including to stay 10 feet away from downed power lines, as well as to not turn off their natural gas service at the meter.For the latest information on electric power outages, customers may, for instance, follow the company on Twitter and visit the Outage Tracker webpage for general outage locations, CenterPoint said.In a separate Aug. 25 statement, Southern Company said that Georgia Power is ready to respond to requests for assistance from utilities that may be impacted by Hurricane Laura, noting that the company coordinates with other utilities to field requests for assistance through the mutual assistance network, which consists of hundreds of utilities from around the country.Among other things, Southern said that customers are encouraged to become familiar with Georgia Power’s Outage Map on the company’s website, which, as Southern noted, automatically adjusts to function on any desktop, handheld or mobile device, and has direct access to Georgia Power’s social media channels for quick engagement with customer service representatives.In an Aug. 23 statement, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) urged customers in the path of then-Tropical Storm Laura — and Tropical Storm Marco — to ensure that they have an emergency plan and fully stocked outage kit ready in case the storms cause power outages.According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as of 4 a.m., CDT, on Aug. 25, Marco became a remnant low just south of Louisiana, with the National Hurricane Center no longer providing advisories on Marco.

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