(Natural News) More than a million people across Louisiana are without power on Tuesday, with reports indicating that it could take weeks for the electricity to come back on.
Thousands of miles of transmission lines were damaged in the wake of Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 hurricane that raised questions about how New Orleans and other coastal areas across the state are prepared for natural disasters.
Energy provider Entergy Corp has been surveying the damage and found that the hurricane has knocked out at least 207 transmission lines spanning 2,000 miles. Rod West, the group’s president of utility operations, said that the area is being surveyed for damages and that it could take at least three weeks to restore electricity in New Orleans. He also said that some transmission towers need to be replaced due to significant wind damage.
West noted that the damage to the transmission system is more severe than Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, some of Entergy’s power plants also sustained damage, although West noted that it would not hinder energy production.
Entergy said in a statement: “The damage from Hurricane Ida has eliminated much of the redundancy built into the transmission system, which makes it difficult to move power around the region to customers.”
A grid damage assessment will give officials a better understanding regarding power restoration in the following days.
The energy crisis indicates that a humanitarian crisis in the region is imminent.
Mayor orders citywide curfew
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and police superintendent Shaun Ferguson held a press conference at the City Hall regarding a citywide curfew to prevent mass looting and an increase in crime. (Related: In the middle of a hurricane, what do city dwellers LOOT? Sneakers, of course…)
Cantrell told reporters that a citywide curfew will be enforced and that the New Orleans Police Department has deployed an anti-looting task force with the National Guard members to protect business districts.
Several social media accounts showed people looting businesses after the hurricane ravaged the city, knocking out its power lines.
Tens of thousands of New Orleans residents have evacuated the metro area ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall. They have been asked not to return to the city until further notice due to the widespread power outages.
Hurricane Ida exposes grid power weakness
This is the second year in a row that Entergy’s power lines suffered extensive damages from hurricanes and storms. As anger and frustration build in the city and southern Louisiana, energy experts questioned whether the company did enough to protect its lines and equipment from extreme weather conditions.
Entergy reported that Hurricane Ida put 216 substations and more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines out of service. A conductor on one transmission lone fell from an Entergy tower into the Mississippi River near Avondale, Louisiana. Further, there have been numerous posts online of transmission and distribution towers fallen on the ground.
Robert McCullough, an energy consultant who runs McCullough Research in Portland, Oregon, noted: “Their vintage equipment didn’t stand up to Laura (2020), and I suspect the same report for Ida.”
Gov. Edwards expressed some frustration with the pace at which Entergy is restoring power, as well. “I’m not satisfied with 30 days. The Entergy people aren’t satisfied with 30 days. Nobody who’s out there needing power is satisfied with that. But I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane — at least tied for the strongest — that the state has ever experienced,” he said.
The financial costs of storms are putting a toll on Entergy: in addition to the repairs it is making due to the damages Ida caused, the company’s equipment was also damaged in three hurricanes in 2020 and a winter storm earlier in the year. Restoration costs in the state relating to the storms would total around $2.1 billion.
Read more about the damage caused by Hurricane Ida at Climate.news.