Insights > Spaghetti and Restoration: How a Utility Company Supporting Entergy Took to Southern Hospitality
Spaghetti and Restoration: How a Utility Company Supporting Entergy Took to Southern Hospitality
Arizonan Toby Mickalson is using his skills in utility operations to help Louisianans in more ways than one.
As vice president of operations at Support Operations Services, a MasTec company that supports Entergy during and outside of storm restoration work, Mickalson’s day job (at least currently) is ensuring crews are working safely to get the lights back on in the Bayou Region following Hurricane Ida.
But Tuesday it wasn’t a bucket truck he and others with Intren, MasTec Utility Services Group, Liberty Line Builders, and P&G Power were waiting on; it was a semitrailer packed with food and other items, and it was bound first for Golden Meadow.
After Golden Meadow, the truck would arrive in Houma. At both stops, Mickalson and his crew helped unload food and supplies at a church and food bank for those in need throughout an area ravaged by Ida.
When asked what compelled the group whose job currently involves coordinating the repair and rebuild of the electric system to help communities other than their own get back on their feet, they say it was the generosity of Louisiana’s people.
“Within five minutes of my arrival in Houma, a family from the area offered me spaghetti,” Mickalson said. “They had been greatly affected by the storm and didn’t have power, yet they were here trying to make sure we were taken care of. It was then that I knew we had to do to something beyond line construction to return their generosity.”
Ultimately, Mickalson learned quickly that Ida had devastated parts of southeast Louisiana, including areas in and around Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. He also learned that while homes and businesses may never be the same, the spirit of the communities and the people who call the area home was as strong as ever. It was that spirit that drove him and others to show a little southern hospitality of their own.
While on rest time, Mickalson started making phone calls and coordinating the delivery of goods to Louisiana, particularly to First Baptist Church of Golden Meadow and the Terrebonne Churches United Food Bank. The organizations put together a list of supplies residents needed most and provided it to Mickalson and his group.
Within days, the staff from Support Operations Services, known as SOS, had canvased local stores in Arizona. After sharing with a Costco manager the story of what southeast Louisiana residents were going through, the retailer palletized food and supplies for transport from its store in Mesa, Ariz., to Golden Meadow and Houma.
“We bought everything in Arizona because we didn’t want to disrupt the local supply chain for people in Louisiana,” added Mickalson.
Food and supplies arrived in southeast Louisiana on Tuesday morning, along with a $100,000 donation, which was raised by line crews and executives and matched by P&G Power, and given to two organizations that’ll support disaster relief, the BStrong Foundation and Global Empowerment Mission.
“I’m proud of the people I work with and the company we represent,” Mickalson said. “But I’m even more impressed by the hospitality and giving nature of the folks of Louisiana. I’m glad we got to play a small part in helping them get back on their feet.”