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Utility Fleets Begin Massive Effort to Restore Services After Hurricane

August 31, 2005

Across the country, utility companies are marshalling line crews and convoys of trucks for service in storm-struck areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, according to a report on FleetOwner.com. The crews will help restore power to thousands of communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.Restoration efforts are extremely limited at this point due to the amount of damage to electrical systems. About one million customers remain without power in Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana power company Entergy committed 4,000 line workers and thousands of other crews to the effort, though they do not expect to start restoring power at least six to 12 weeks at minimum. Carol Peters, spokesperson for Dallas-based utility TXU told FleetOwner that TXU sent 570 employees and contractors to Florida and is now in the process of redirecting them to Louisiana and Mississippi. “We have 55 pieces of equipment – from bucket trucks to tree trimmers, communication trailers and other units – already deployed, but they need to rest as they are on a two-week rotation,” she said. “Our crews work long hours in emergency situations like this and they can only sustain that workload so long before they need to be rotated.”Utilities have traditionally worked together during emergencies, another spokesperson said. Mississippi power expects an influx of an additional 2,000 workers from outside the company to help the effort. Crews from utilities as far away as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Oklahoma are moving in to help support restoration efforts.Melissa McHenry, spokeswoman for Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP) told FleetOwner that her company has sent to Louisiana 1,250 employees and contractors plus their equipment to help with recovery efforts. “Obviously, the utilities in the areas hit by Katrina don’t have any spare equipment left so our crews are taking everything they will need – they are going to be self-contained units,” McHenry said. “Convoys are leaving our area compromised of bucket trucks, tree trimmers, four-wheel-drive light vehicles and others – everything they’ll need to help get the power back on.”
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