All Entergy Texas utility workers and contractors currently assisting restoration efforts in Louisiana will begin returning to Texas today, according to senior management.
John Mullins, Entergy Texas distribution operations director, said Entergy has been monitoring Hurricane Rita for several days. Texas crews and contractors still in Louisiana were called back today as part of preparations for the storm. Some workers had returned late last week.
"We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best," Mullins said.
Entergy's workforce, assisted by mutual assistance utility and contract crews from other states, including Entergy Texas, has restored electrical service to more than 80 percent of the 1.1 million customers affected by Hurricane Katrina.
He added that officials have also begun discussing redeployment of the current restoration workforce and adding more resources from other utilities in order to have sufficient resources to meet the threat from Hurricane Rita and continue the Katrina restoration as long as it is safe to do so.
Other resources, Mullins said, would be brought in through Entergy's mutual assistance agreements and would include Entergy workers from the company's sister states, plus workers from other utilities. Plans call for crews to be staged at Ford Park in Jefferson County and at the Montgomery County Fair Grounds further west.
Mullins noted, though, that utilities throughout the Gulf States region are stretched thin as a result of the massive restoration efforts under way following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, Hurricane Rita is expected to have inflicted damage in the Florida Keys prior to making landfall in the Gulf states.
"We are staying in touch with emergency management officials here," Mullins said. "And we are watching the storm track very carefully and making every possible preparation."