Mayor: Majority of power has been restored after tornado struck city

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said the EF-2 tornado that struck a portion of the city Wednesday morning was akin to what the city has experienced in recent years during hurricane season.

“Just for a point of reference, those winds were sustained at 115 mph — which is akin to a Category 3 hurricane — so it was a very intense event,” he said. “Like many of you, at about 6:40 a.m. (Wednesday) morning I was in the hallway with my family trying to get through a tornado event, and thank God we are not aware of any serious injuries or deaths related to the severe weather.”

Hunter praised the efforts of city staff — including utilities, water, wastewater and public works — with no major issues being reported and streets cleaned “very quickly.”

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“As far as electricity, while the city does not have our own electric utility, the majority of the city is powered by Entergy and at this point about 96 percent of Lake Charles does have power,” he said. “I know that’s not a consolation to the remaining four percent that does not have power but it is worthy of note that 24 hours after such a significant event 96 percent of our city does have power.”

Entergy Louisiana communications manager Brandon Scardigli said utility crews are working hard to restore power to the remaining 13,000 customers whose electric service was interrupted during the storm.

“They expect most customers will be restored by Thursday night except for isolated cases of customers in the hardest-hit areas in or around Calcasieu Parish and Lafayette,” he said.

With damage assessment by scouts and others in the field nearly complete, about 210 poles, 560 spans of wire (amount of wire from pole to pole), 80 transformers and 255 crossarms were found to need repair or replacement across the state, Scardigli said.

Cleco and contractor crews said they are continue to work to make system repairs and restore power. Statewide, in addition to Cleco storm resources, the company has added 400 contractor line mechanics and vegetation specialists from out of state to assist with clean-up and power
restoration efforts. As of Thursday, the company said it still had 23,717 customers without power; the company said the electricity of all of their Southwest Louisiana customers has been restored.

Beauregard Electric outage map Thursday afternoon showed nearly 3,000 customers in Southwest Louisiana remain without power. That number is down from 20,000 Wednesday afternoon.

Waste Management said because of Wednesday’s storm it is “experiencing difficulty completing routes and collecting trash in Sulphur.” The company said it expects to have all the routes completed within the next two days.

The majority of Calcasieu Parish public schools were reopened Thursday morning with the exception of W.T. Henning Elementary, S.J. Welsh Middle and Barbe Elementary due to ongoing power restoration efforts. Those schools are expected to reopen Friday.

Hunter said the city’s transit service is fully operational after being temporarily suspended Wednesday morning.

He said residents are encouraged to stack their vegetative debris — trees, limbs, branches — roadside for weekend litter details that will be rerouted to pick up storm debris.

Lake Charles Police are increasing patrols in some of the more harder-hit areas of the city, Hunter said.

“We will have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who may want to take advantage of this situation,” he said.