Swepco Update: Hurricane Laura devastates power grid

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From AEP/Swepco:
Hurricane Laura Devastates Power Grid in Central Louisiana; Nearly 2,700 Workers Responding

Shreveport, La., (Aug. 27, 2020) – The intense winds and driving rains of Hurricane Laura shoved trees, utility poles and wires to the ground, leaving 94% of Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) customers in eight central Louisiana parishes without power.

At 5 p.m. today, with restoration in progress, 41,000 customers in DeSoto, Bienville, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Winn and Vernon parishes remained without power.

In total, approximately 128,000 customers were without power, including 79,000 in the Shreveport-Bossier area, 8,100 in Texas and 400 in Arkansas.

“We have 2,500 workers coming to help more than 300 SWEPCO employees restore power. All external crews are assigned to help our customers in Louisiana,” said Drew Seidel, SWEPCO vice president of Distribution Region Operations. “Our Texas-based crews are restoring power to customers in Center, Carthage and other areas in the state hit hard by the storm. Once they complete their work in Texas, they’ll begin working in Louisiana.”

“We expect it will take several days to restore power,” Seidel said.

Customers without power who are on life support systems or need uninterrupted electric service for health reasons should make alternate arrangements.

Hurricane Laura smashed into SWEPCO’s Valley District this morning as a Category 2

hurricane with 100 mph maximum sustained winds. It continued through northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas as a Category 1 hurricane and tropical storm.

At the peak, 136,000 SWEPCO customers in Louisiana and East Texas were without power.

A soon as it was safe, SWEPCO crews began restoring power to several critical customers in the Ark-La-Tex. Employees are addressing hazards, including hundreds of downed power lines.

“All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous,” Seidel said. “Don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity.”

By dark, SWEPCO’s outage response team will have a high-level assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Laura.

“We’ll begin a detailed assessment of the damage first thing tomorrow morning. This will be critical in determining how long it will take us to restore power,” Seidel said.

SWEPCO will share estimated restoration times via SWEPCO.com and SWEPCO Alerts as soon as they’re available.

“The quickest way to get updates on your outage is to sign up for email or text alerts at SWEPCO.com/Alerts,” said Carey Sullivan, SWEPCO director of Communications. “You’ll receive information as soon as we have it in our system.”

Report outages at SWEPCO.com or though the SWEPCO app, available on Google Play and the App Store.

For updates and photos see SWEPCO.com and, follow SWEPCO on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

· When to call an electrician
o SWEPCO cannot connect power to a home or business if there is damage to the service entrance, which is owned by the customer.
o Customers need to have a qualified electrician repair this damage before power can be restored. The service entrance includes the metal box housing SWEPCO’s meter, the “weatherhead” pipe on top of the meter box, the service entrance cables running from the weatherhead through the meter box to the inside panel box, and other related facilities. Similar responsibilities apply to underground service.
o After repairs are made, contact SWEPCO to have power restored.

· Working safely
o Workers are practicing social distancing and other measures to stay healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus, making the recovery effort especially challenging.
o Maintain at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and SWEPCO field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
o Also, be careful in when driving or walking in all utility crew work zones.