NS residents concerned of another power outage during extreme cold

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 8:00 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

PUMPKIN CENTER, La. -- The propane is flowing across Louisiana thanks to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s state of emergency.

But on the Northshore, it’s not the lack of propane that has people worried.

Jessica Brettle is trying to settle down her three-week-old baby. She hopes this routine during the overnight hours is a lot easier tonight than it was two weeks ago, when temperatures below 20 degrees outside of her home were felt inside because the power was out for hours.

"It got really cold here," she said. "So we had to start a fire, but we had to find the firewood in the dark."

Thursday night's cold forecast comes with a chance for precipitation, which gives some even more concern.

"I remember years ago we lost power on account of ice on the lines 50, 60 years ago, but we worry about that all the time," one neighbor said.

Entergy, which was responsible for the Tangipahoa Parish outage, said it has balanced the loads on its circuits to minimize lines from tripping due to overuse like last time.

A company spokesperson said the surge in use tricked the system into thinking there was a problem, and it shut off power. The restoration process took longer, the company said, because as lines were powered back up, heating systems and lights turned on instantly, sending a surge of use through the system again. So the process had to be done slowly.

Crews with Washington-St. Tammany Electric Co-op worked through the relatively balmy conditions Thursday to make its service more equipped to deal with challenging weather events in the future.

Power companies say they do maintenance and upgrades throughout the year to prepare for extreme situations like the one expected Thursday night. However, they say they're going to have workers on standby just in case something goes wrong.

Despite a lack of confidence in their power system, neighbors in Tangipahoa say they're stuck hoping for the best, with few ways to prepare for the worst.

"We have generators, but there again, we'd have to buy electric heaters. We're not equipped for it," said one neighbor.

"I'm pretty sure it will happen again,” said Brettle, “I’m just hopeful Entergy will be a little better off when they try to get it back on."

Entergy said it has developed a new system that will have service representatives call customers regarding their outages, should the situation happen again.

If an outage occurs, the company is asking customers to turn off their heating systems. When the power is restored, wait 30 minutes before turning the heating systems back on in order to help crews return service to everyone quicker.

Washington-St. Tammany urges members to report any issues or outages immediately by calling 1-866-672-9773.

 

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