The backbone to Louisiana’s power grid suffered catastrophic damage after Hurricane Laura barreled ashore, killing at least 14 people in the state.
Laura crumpled homes and ripped away power lines, with nearly 360,000 customers still in the dark days after it hit Thursday. Carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of generators has been responsible for more than half the deaths, according to health officials.
Entergy, which serves Louisiana and Texas, says the damage to its high-voltage transmission lines and other key infrastructure is some of the most severe the company has ever experienced.
Customers cannot get power until this critical part of the system is restored, and damage is so extensive in some areas that it will need to be rebuilt from the ground up.
“We expect the recovery to be as difficult and challenging as we have ever faced in the past. Customers should expect extended power outages lasting weeks,” Phillip May, the president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, said in a statement Saturday.
Transmission lines act as the interstate system for electricity, allowing companies to carry electricity generated by power plants to main power lines that feed into communities.
More than 29,000 lineworkers from 29 states, DC and Canada, according to an email from the Edison Electric Institute, have settled into the region to help restore power to those affected by the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana in 164 years.
Despite the large contingent of crews, the restoration can’t come quick enough.
The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for southwest Louisiana, which includes hard-hit Lake Charles, and east Texas, where it could feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday afternoon.
Residents are reverting to generators to try and beat the heat without electricity. It’s paramount to operate the generator correctly to keep families safe. Of Louisiana’s storm-related deaths, officials have said at least eight were from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to use generators during power outages.
Carbon monoxide is odorless and can be dangerous indoors if used without proper ventilation. Generators should be used outdoors and placed away from windows, doors and vents that can allow carbon monoxide inside, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Laura no longer poses a threat to the US and has since dissipated.
The National Hurricane Center’s eyes are now on three other areas in the Atlantic for tropical development. None of which pose an immediate threat to the US but need to be watched closely.
The peak of hurricane season is Sept. 10.