State’s utilities adding extra work crews ahead of Isaac

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi utility companies have extra crews on hand for possible widespread outages from Isaac.

Entergy Mississippi spokeswoman Mara Hartmann tells the Clarion-Ledger the company has asked for 3,750 additional workers from outside the service territory to help restore service in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.

Entergy has more than 435,000 customers in 45 counties in Mississippi.

Hartmann didn’t have a breakdown of how many of the additional workers will be in Mississippi. She said the bulk would likely be in Louisiana where the biggest impact from the storm is expected.

“Strong winds, rain and flooding could affect parts of our Mississippi territory and cause extensive power outages,” Hartmann said.

Hartmann said Entergy employees from throughout Mississippi and other states the company serves and contract employees are relocating today from other areas of the company to be in position to respond to power outages caused by Isaac.

Mississippi Power Company has 186,000 customers in 23 mostly southeast Mississippi counties.

Spokesman Jay Shepard said the company’s storm plan would be activated once they see the damage and the need. He said Mississippi Power workers would be shifted to the areas of the greatest need. He said they have requested additional line workers and tree trimmers.

In addition, Mississippi Power is part of a four-state association that includes Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Shepard said Florida now has a bunch of extra workers it won’t need that can be shifted to Mississippi.

He also said Georgia Power had additional workers on standby but likely won’t need them and they can be brought in to help restore service to Mississippi customers if needed.

Southern Pine Electric Power Association, which has more than 10,000 miles of line, also is monitoring Isaac. Dispatchers will be on duty and Southern Pine line crews will be on standby to respond to any outages that may occur, according to a company news release.

Atmos Energy, the state’s largest natural gas supplier, is also monitoring Isaac.

“The safety of our customers, employees and communities is our number one priority. We are monitoring the storm and our crews are implementing the first phase of our emergency response plan as we prepare for the hurricane,” said David Gates, Atmos Energy’s president of the Mississippi division.

Gates said natural gas distribution pipelines are mostly underground, but can be damaged by uprooted trees and shifted foundations. In addition, fallen limbs and other debris can damage gas meters and associated piping near homes and buildings.

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