Insights > The Logistics of “Heads in Beds and Fed”
The Logistics of “Heads in Beds and Fed”
Coordinating logistics for storm restoration might be mind-blowing for some, but for Kevin Weber, it’s simple. “The Entergy logistics team lives by the motto ‘heads in beds and fed’ for every storm,” said the director of security policy and compliance and Entergy’s storm logistics section chief.
During Hurricane Zeta, that means finding lodging, feeding and transporting thousands of restoration workers. Booking hotel rooms or locating open restaurants to feed the sheer volume of line workers, scouts and support personnel who need to be on the ground in a storm-ravaged area is a monumental task, magnified by the need to ensure health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So how do we do it?
It Starts With a Plan
Before a storm makes landfall, we use storm prediction models to help us determine how many resources will be needed on site to perform restoration work, based on the storm’s path and intensity. A team of about 100 Entergy employees uses that information to manage logistics. They coordinate lodging, meals, staging sites, fleet and supply chain needs for the duration of the restoration.
Finding a place for workers to sleep is one of the first tasks the logistics team takes on.
“We have to try to get the right number of hotel rooms as close to the affected areas as possible, while also balancing which workers have arrived, which ones are en route and how many need lodging,” said James Wood, manager, incident response, and Entergy’s storm logistics.
Of the approximately 8,000 workers from 23 states who have come to help us restore power after Hurricane Zeta, nearly 5,100 need lodging.
“Proactively acquiring lodging within and close to the affected areas is critical to getting restoration process started as quickly as possible after a storm,” explained Omar El Shal, manager, emerging technology in transformation, and co-chief of Entergy Louisiana storm logistics. “Those workers need a safe place to stay until the storm passes, and then be lodged close to their work sites to enable an efficient restoration process.”
So where do you house over 5,000 workers that need a place to sleep? Aside from traditional hotels, we also utilize floating hotels, or “flotels,” particularly in regions of our service territory where there simply aren’t enough rooms for our workers. For hurricanes Laura and Zeta, the HOS Achiever was able to dock in close proximity to where a large amount of our restoration work needed to be done, giving workers a place to rest and reduce their travel time to job sites. The Achiever is a 432-foot vessel that can both house and feed nearly 270 passengers.
Besides beds, all those workers need a home base to work from. That’s where staging sites come in. Restoration equipment, trailers and trucks would quickly fill up a hotel parking lot, so Entergy partners with nearby facilities that have large parking areas to set up staging sites. These sites can accommodate fleets of vehicles and equipment. They also serve as a central location for meal delivery, fueling, materials and shuttling workers to and from hotels by bus each day.
Silver Linings in the Playbook
Every storm has its own challenges and silver linings. Hurricane Zeta’s unexpected speed and eastward path after landfall, coupled with an unseasonable ice storm in Oklahoma, put some constraints on the number of workers that typically would be available to come to our aid. The team’s proactive efforts secured the support needed to restore power for customers.
Having already worked through several storm restoration events amid COVID-19, we already had plans in place to ensure safety for all our workers. That includes safe lodging accommodations, 50% capacity on shuttle buses, to go box meals rather than buffets and dining as a group, and COVID-19 champions at each staging site to implement safety signage and protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing.
There’s also a local economic benefit because we’ve secured commercial lodging, like hotels, and have been able to use local caterers for meals.
“A positive outcome is the impact on the local economy,” said Jennifer Grahn, an analyst in capital projects transmission and co-chief of Entergy Louisiana storm logistics. “One minority woman-owned business owner was so appreciative of our order for meals. Her business relies on events that have been suspended during the pandemic. She said her business has struggled. It feels good to know that we’re able to help our neighbors in that way.”
By the Numbers
The numbers showing how we take care of the people who restore power are impressive. Here are current Hurricane Zeta logistics by the numbers. As work continues, these numbers continue to grow:
- Nearly 8,000 restoration workers from 23 states
- Lodging accommodations for 5,100 restoration workers at more than 330 hotels
- An estimated 105,000 meals will be served throughout restoration
- More than 20 staging sites
- Nearly 50 buses
- About 100 Entergy employees managing logistics