Hurricane Laura hit north Louisiana recently and Union Parish was in its path. A category 1 hurricane this far north of the gulf is pretty much unheard of, but rain and wind from Laura tore through our area causing serious, debilitating damage.
For Claiborne Electric, Laura was devastating because it knocked out power for 98 percent of its customers. Ninety-Eight percent!
When 98 percent of your customer base struggles to just make do because you can’t provide your service, and when some of those customers are even suffering, your business takes a hit.
Line crews from 30 states were in Louisiana following Laura making landfall. Some of those crews were in Union Parish. High-force winds uprooted trees and power poles. Trees took down power lines. Transformers blew. There was even a dead bear found atop one transformer in the Dean area.
Repair and power restoration was not a simple task. The damage was varied and spread all around the parish. Crews had to cut up trees that were in the way, those that were on power lines, and just clear the path for workers to do their job. Claiborne Electric GM and CEO Mark Brown, in a letter to customers, said “At no time in our past have we experienced a storm that so completely covered our territory.”
The longer folks went without power, the more complaints came in. Those without generators were losing food from their refrigerators and freezers. They couldn’t cook. They couldn’t take hot showers. They were miserable.
“I understand the complaints,” Brown said. “It was hot and humid and our members were greatly inconvenienced by the lack of electric services.”
Even though Claiborne Electric had 12 construction line crews and 3 right-of-way crews ready before the storm hit, they brought in 8 more line crews and 3 more right-of-way crews after the impact.
Another problem the co-op faced was outside service. Even if they had all the lines in an area ready to go back online, if the substation for that area was serviced by Entergy (which was dealing with the same situations for its customers), that meant Claiborne had to wait for Entergy to repair power to the substation. And it was up to Entergy to prioritize which lines it repaired first.
With safety for the workers and its members paramount, Claiborne crews work long hours to restore power to the entire parish as quickly as possible. The Claiborne crews, along with all of the other crews that came to help, worked hard for us.
In our opinion those crews deserve our thanks and our respect. Climbing power poles and dealing with electrical lines is dangerous work. But they go out and do it every day.
Thank you Claiborne Electric for a job well done!