Sept. 5 (UPI) — Some areas of Louisiana could be without power for as many as three weeks following “unprecedented” damage to power facilities, local utility Entergy said.
In a post on its website, Entergy estimated that Lafourche Parish, Lower Jefferson Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish and Plaquemines Parish with the exception of Belle Chasse may not have power restored until Sept. 29.
During a Sunday morning press conference, Entergy President Phillip May said power has been restored to more than one-third of Entergy Louisiana customers.
Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a powerful Category Storm last Sunday, resulting in at least 12 deaths in the state and damaging crucial portions of its electrical infrastructure.
A total of 617,650 customers throughout the state were without power as of Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us. After the storm struck, it was more than 1 million.
Entergy has replaced 24,70 poles and 691 transformers damaged by the storm in the past week and John Hopkinns, Entergy’s vice president for distribution, said 45 of the utility’s 53 biggest customers have had their power restored.
“These customers are critical, as they supply important commodities such as gasoline,” said Hopkins. “They are the backbone of the communities we serve.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a press conference Saturday that electricity is “one of the biggest challenges” in the state.
“There’s not an even rate of restoration going on and that’s always going to be the case. I’m always happy to see people getting powered up and some people are going to be quite a while,” Edwards said.
Edwards added that the electrical infrastructure requires reinforcement but will likely always be susceptible to powerful storms.
“It is hard for me to imagine that we will ever have an electrical infrastructure — or the types of infrastructure as well — that can withstand a storm of this severity without any disruptions. But we know we can minimize those disruptions,” he said.
In neighboring Mississippi, Entergy said it had restored power to all 46,600 customers who experienced outages as a result of Ida and another 12,000 who lost power during thunderstorms on Wednesday.
“The effort to repair or replace these damages was monumental. For example, the number of wire spans downed was equivalent to about 48 miles of wire, which is enough to wrap around Daytona International Speedway more than 19 times,” the utility said.
After tearing through the Gulf Coast Ida made its way to the Northeast where it is responsible as many as 50 deaths along with severe flooding. President Joe Biden is set to travel to the region in the coming week to survey the damage.