Insights > ‘On My Team Forever’: Entergy Lineman in Airboat Helps Beached Boaters
‘On My Team Forever’: Entergy Lineman in Airboat Helps Beached Boaters
Lonnie Hamilton has been driving boats all his life — a skill that's handy in the Bayou State, where there's way more water than land.
Hamilton is an Entergy lineman based in the New Orleans metro region, and unlike most linemen who drive service trucks, his vehicle of choice is an airboat. On a typical workday, he can be seen skimming through the bayous and marshes of south Louisiana answering service calls, maintaining equipment and making sure customers have reliable power.
But as a recent incident proved, Hamilton's airboat can be useful beyond his Entergy duties. After finishing a workday in late June down in lower Plaquemines Parish, Hamilton and fellow crew members noticed a group of people waving for help near Cox Bay. They found that two boaters had run aground on a sand bar. Another boat with a crew of four had stopped to help, but they couldn't pull it free.
"It was a V-bottom boat and was rocking back and forth, like a rocking chair," Hamilton said. "The two women in the boat had been out there a couple hours standing in water about 8 or 10 inches deep. They might have been out there all night had we not spotted them."
Hamilton tied a line to the beached boat and advised everyone to give him a wide berth and secure anything in their boats that could get blown off by the powerful fan. With onlookers at a safe distance, he started his airboat and went to work.
"I figured out that I needed to pull the boat in circles" to dislodge it, he said. "After the second big circle, I was able to pull it loose and into deeper water. It took about 20 minutes."
With the boat safely afloat in deeper waters, Hamilton followed the boaters back to the Pointe-a-la-Hache Marina, about 30 minutes away.
"They were very thankful. They thanked us two or three times," said Hamilton, who has spent his 18-year Entergy career serving customers throughout the area. "I wasn't going to leave, and I wanted to try my best to help. It's what we would have done on any day."
Stanley Bordelon, a contractor based in Simmesport who was working with the crew that day, was so impressed that he emailed Entergy about Hamilton's feat.
"I spent four years in the Coast Guard doing search and rescue, and I didn't run across too many people like Lonnie who would stop and assist the way he did," Bordelon wrote. "I'm not sure if it's protocol, training or just a big heart — he will be on my team forever."