Insights > Strongest Storm Since the 1800s Ravages Transmission Equipment in Louisiana and Texas
Strongest Storm Since the 1800s Ravages Transmission Equipment in Louisiana and Texas
More than 200 transmission towers damaged or destroyed
Hurricane Laura will go down in the record books as the strongest storm to hit Louisiana since 1856 and has tied for the fifth strongest to make landfall in the continental U.S.
At peak, more than 558,000 Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Texas customers experienced outages across our service area. By 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, that number for Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Texas dropped to 197,659 and 75,384, respectively, as crews continued working to restore power to homes and businesses that are able to accept it.
That’s not the case in southwest Louisiana and east Texas.
The damage from Laura’s historic intensity caused catastrophic damage to the Entergy system across Louisiana and Texas. The eye wall, which brings the most damaging winds and intense rainfall, passed directly over Lake Charles, Louisiana, causing widespread damage to that area and our system.
The transmission system is the backbone of the electric grid and helps Entergy move power from the power plant to the lines serving customers’ neighborhoods. These large lines are like the interstate system. Without these lines in service, it makes it difficult to move power across the system to customers in the affected areas.
“We expect the recovery to be as difficult and challenging as we have ever faced in the past. Customers should expect extended power outages lasting weeks,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana.
Power must be first restored to transmission lines and substations in order to energize the distribution lines that bring power into neighborhoods, businesses and homes.
There are seven transmission line corridors feeding into the Lake Charles area, five of which belong to Entergy. All seven have been catastrophically damaged, and while not all assessments have been completed, it is some of the most severe damage the company has experienced. So far, we have identified more than 220 structures requiring replacement or repair.
To put this into context, the steel structure that supports a 500-kV line weighs roughly 40,000 pounds. One 18-wheeler can transport about 50-100 distribution poles, but just one of these towers requires three trucks for transport.
To date, we’ve identified severe damage in Louisiana that amasses close to 144 transmission lines and 180 substations during our initial assessment. In Texas, damage identified to date includes close to 57 transmission lines and 53 substations.
To assess damage we use advanced technology, like infrared cameras, drones and satellite imagery to complement our process that includes patrols by foot, vehicles, airboats, highwater vehicles and helicopters. Because the damage to the transmission system is so vast and immense, in many cases special equipment may be used as we begin to dismantle mangled structures made up of steel, concrete and tensioned wires. Crews may have to perform major construction and repairs across both land and water.
A PATH FORWARD
As more information is collected, we will continue to develop our plans to stabilize the backbone of our transmission system and build paths from available generation to begin restoring customers.
While progress is being made across our system, a critical priority is to get the first transmission source into Lake Charles re-energized to begin the process of restoring power to some in the area sooner, but for others it may take weeks.
Additionally, crews continue to work to place transmission lines into service in the Orange, Texas area. This area, along the Texas-Louisiana border, also experienced severe damage from Hurricane Laura.
We are working in parallel to repair the extensive damage to the distribution poles and lines in the Lake Charles area. Distribution system damage in Louisiana includes 3,227 poles, 1,229 transformers and 5,532 spans of wire. Distribution system damage in Texas includes 368 poles, 588 transformers and 76 spans of wire.
STAY ALERT, STAY SAFE
As members of the community begin to return home to survey the damage, we urge them to be cautious as they venture out. Stay away from downed power lines and areas of debris. Energized power lines may not be visible among the rubble. Report downed lines immediately to Entergy at 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) and call your local police station or fire department. Read more safety tips from Entergy’s storm center.
Customers can stay informed throughout the Entergy storm response in several ways:
- Download the Entergy App at entergy.com/app to easily report outages or check on the status of power at a home or business.
- Entergy’s View Outages website includes maps that show where outages are located and give information about restoration progress.
- Sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest.
The Entergy Storm Center website has storm safety, preparation and restoration information that is updated throughout the day.