While I was evacuated to Ruston during Hurricane Ida, I told everyone to get settled, the power will be off for two to four weeks. I explained that eight transmission lines were damaged. Transmission lines are the fat lines strung across the huge towers that transect Lake Pontchartrain and along the Mississippi River. These are technically difficult to repair.
For example, the Avondale Tower that fell into the Mississippi River can’t be purchased off the shelf. In a normal, nonpandemic world this would be fairly simple. Unfortunately, there are still serious supply chain issues.
The mayor said not to come home yet. The governor said it would be around a month. One week after leaving the city, I was making plans to get my grandmother’s house wired for internet when I heard that the power was back on in New Orleans.
I wondered what kind of voodoo magic the new Entergy New Orleans CEO Deanna Rodriguez had conjured to achieve this miracle.
Thousands of distribution poles were damaged. Where did the new poles come from? Thousands of poles! Honestly, I am dumbstruck at the speed of repair.
I am not a cheerleader for Entergy, far from it. The normal day-to-day outages are an issue. But no other utility in the country is better at storm response. It took weeks for utilities in the northeast to restore power after Hurricane Sandy, only a Category 1 at landfall.
Those of us who went through Hurricane Katrina are still suffering some PTSD, but we are better off today than we were 16 years ago. The levee system held. The pump system kept us dry (mostly). New Orleans got power back in about a week. Progress has been made and we are resilient. We faced off a Cat 4 and survived.
consultant, former director of Alliance for Affordable Energy