Slow and steady process: Nearly 3,000 Entergy customers restored so far

John Guidroz

Just under 3,000 Entergy Louisiana customers in Calcasieu Parish have had power restored since Hurricane Laura’s landfall nearly two weeks ago, Spokesperson Margaret Harris said during a briefing Wednesday.

However, Harris called for patience, adding that crews may not always move from one neighborhood to the next.

“There are going to be times when we’re able to restore power, and a significant amount, but then the next step may take us to a different area,” Harris said.

Residents in the Toomey/Starks area were the first to have power restored after the storm, with service extended to 500 customers the following day, Harris said. However, crews were unable to restore power to neighboring residents on Wednesday.

Priority will be given to hospitals, water and wastewater systems, as well as other related facilities, Harris said.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Entergy crews and linemen have “moved mountains” in quickly restoring power after Hurricane Laura’s landfall.

“If you would’ve told me two weeks ago that we would be sitting here today talking about power in Lake Charles over the next several days, I would’ve said there’s no way,” he said. “I think the government can take a page out of Entergy’s book sometimes.”

Like Harris, Hunter reminded residents that power restoration will be sporadic.

Traffic after the storm continues to be an issue for crews working to restore power, Harris said. Residents that experienced any water damage should turn off their main breaker until power is restored. Tips on generator safety are available at entergy.com.

Harris said 13,800 resources are working toward restoration efforts in the area, including transmission structures. She said crews found 6,600 down or damaged poles, along with 3,300 miles of distribution line and 2,900 transformers.

Parish Administrator Bryan Beam read a statement from Beauregard Electric Spokesperson Kay Fox, stating that power has been restored to 11,200 meters, and crews have energized 13 of 22 substations and 41 of 63 distribution lines. Full restoration is expected to take at least three weeks.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Gene Pittman said 120 deputies are working various details, including escorts for crews working to restore power. He said the department has averaged 600-700 service calls each day since the storm.

Pittman said the sheriff’s office has taken 79 looting reports, with another 17 resulting in arrests.

The curfew has helped keep looting numbers down, he said.

Pittman said traffic continues to be a problem. Every light should be treated as a four-way stop.

Sheriff Tony Manucso is “doing fine” and his health has improved, Pittman said. Mancuso has been in quarantine since testing positive for COVID-19 Sept. 5.

Calcasieu Public Works Director Allen Wainwright said 120,000 cubic yards of debris in unincorporated areas have been hauled to debris sites. He reminded residents to sort storm debris, but to not overcrowd it onto roadways.

Residents needing to report missing stop signs in unincorporated areas should call Public Works at 721-3700. Wainwright said parish crews are working at major intersections to improve visibility. 

Trash pickup routes remain on schedule. Residents in unincorporated areas that are missing a trash can should call the Waste Management hotline at 337-436-7229 to get a replacement.

Temporary work licenses can be obtained at the Planning and Development satellite office at Prien Lake Park Harbor’s Edge Pavilion, 3700 W. Prien Lake Road. For more, call 721-3600 or 721-3610.

More than 74,000 residents have registered for FEMA assistance, with more than 24,000 out of 33,658 inspections completed. So far, FEMA has provided $33.5 million in housing assistance grants.

Costs associated with buying generators, chainsaws, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and other related items can be reimbursed through FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program.

Residents getting FEMA assistance grants should only use it for disaster-related expenses. They include repairs to make a home livable, rental assistance for temporary housing, repairs or replacement of an essential vehicle damaged by the storm, related moving and storage expenses. FEMA will not provide assistance for costs already covered by insurance.

Those receiving FEMA assistance should keep their receipts for three years. Disaster grants cannot be spent for travel, entertainment, regular living expenses or other expenses not related to the disaster.

An additional $500 in critical needs assessment is available to residents already eligible for FEMA assistance with uninhabitable homes, along with homeowners or renters that had to move to temporary housing. The money can cover moving expenses, food and gasoline. 

Those who receive letters denying FEMA assistance can appeal them.

To report disaster fraud, call 866-720-5721. For more on FEMA assistance, visit fema.gov/disaster/4559, disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.

The 11 American Red Cross of Louisiana distribution sites are listed daily on its Facebook page or redcross.org. Meals are distributed at noon and 5 p.m.

Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion continued to stress that generators not be operated in an enclosed space. He reminded residents to wear protective shoes to prevent stepping on debris and to use caution when working on roofs.

Residents needing a temporary roof installed or help with debris cleanup can call Samaritan’s Purse at 337-244-0982. To volunteer with food and water distribution, call 337-930-2693.

Hunter said the Mayor’s Action Line is operational for residents wanting to speak with City Hall employees. Residents can call 491-1346 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The mandatory evacuation is still in effect for Calcasieu Parish remains in effect, Beam said. He said this is because power remains out in most of the parish, limited medical services and an ongoing boil advisory.Electric lines

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