Mississippi Power officials filed federal financial statements at the end of September, estimating initial restoration costs from Hurricane Katrina to be somewhere between $245 million and $295 million.
More than 65 percent of the company’s transmission and distribution facilities needed to be replaced or repaired in the wake of the worst storm ever to affect south Mississippi. Katrina made landfall near Bay St. Louis and moved north through the heart of the company’s service area, leaving all of its 195,000 customers in the dark.
Ultimately, more than 11,000 outside workers were brought into the area to help with restoration and rebuilding efforts, and nearly 169,000 customers who could receive power were restored within 12 days. Currently, more than 19,000 customers are still unable to receive power.
More than 1,000 miles of line and nearly 9,000 distribution poles and 300 transmission poles and towers had to be replaced in the effort. Plant Watson, the company’s generating facility in Gulfport, sustained significant damage after the storm’s tidal surge flooded its lower level. Nearly all of the company’s corporate office facilities were damaged, and company officials and storm restoration personnel operated out of temporary facilities.
Crews will be working for several more months to restore Mississippi Power’s electric system to normal. “We’ve visually inspected our lines and facilities numerous times since completing our initial restoration,” said Kurt Brautigam, company spokesman. “As debris is removed, we’re finding poles we didn’t know were broken or other repairs that need to be made.”
Brautigam noted that damaged poles and unusable wire left along roadways since the restoration will be picked up by city and county debris crews, as part of an agreement with FEMA.
“We’re also auditing the status of street lights and customer security lights so that we can begin restoring those services,” Brautigam said. “We’ll complete that task within the next month or so in our Meridian division, where the damage wasn’t as significant. In the southern areas of our service area, it will take much longer.”