NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Louisiana crews restored power to nearly 70% of Greater New Orleans and almost all of Baton Rouge after Hurricane Ida, but outside of those big cities, turning the lights back on is a complex challenge that is almost all of the time will last September, utility company executives announced on Monday.
It will involve air boats to enter the marshes and swamps to pull cables and repair the most remote of the roughly 22,000 utility poles that blew Ida up on August 29 as one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. mainland said Phillip May, President and CEO of Entergy Louisiana.
More than 530,000 customers in Louisiana are still without electricity, just under half the high when Ida hit eight days ago. In five communities west and south of New Orleans, at least 98% of households and businesses are without electricity, according to the state commission on public services.
“It will be a reconstruction, not a repair” May said.
The fighting in rural Louisiana shouldn’t deter people from that “Almost like a miracle” Speed repairs in New Orleans, said Deanna Rodriguez, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans.
“I’m so proud of the team and I think it’s fabulous good news.” She said.
Ida killed at least 13 people in Louisiana, many of them after the storm. Its remains also brought historic floods, record rains, and tornadoes from Virginia to Massachusetts, killing at least 50 other people.
In the Gulf of Mexico, divers have found the obvious source of an ongoing oil spill that emerged after Ida crossed the area about 2 miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
The owner of the pipeline was not discovered. Talos Energy, the Houston-based company currently paying for the cleanup, said it does not belong to them. The company said it was working with the U.S. Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to find the owner.
Entergy meanwhile warned to be careful, because they didn’t want Ida’s death toll to rise any further.
“There is no way of knowing whether a failed line is live or not. So if you see one, just stay away from it. “ May said.
It remains the high point of the hurricane season and forecasters are seeing a cluster of storms near the Yucatan Peninsula.
It is not currently an organized tropical storm and is expected to slowly move north or northeast across the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said in an update on Monday.
Forecasts show no significant amplification for the next few days, but even heavy rain could cause even more pain in Louisiana.
“Unfortunately, it could bring a lot of rain to our already saturated region. If we are affected, it could call our restoration into question. “ said John Hawkins, vice president of distribution operations at Entergy Louisiana.
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