Most of the New Orleans metropolitan area should have power restored by next week, Entergy announced in a Friday morning press release. According to Entergy, Orleans Parish, Metairie and Kenner and the West Bank of Jefferson Parish should be back on the grid by Sept. 8. St. Bernard Parish and upper Plaquemines Parish are expected to be restored by Sept. 7.
The press release said that the estimates represent when the company expects complete restoration. Many areas, including parts of eastern New Orleans, Mid-City, Carrollton, the French Quarter, Central Business District and Arabi have already been restored.
As more power is restored across the area, an Entergy spokesperson told The Lens on Friday that service disconnections for non-payment have been temporarily suspended.
As of Friday morning, about 702,000 Entergy customers in the region — including about 169,000 in New Orleans and 198,000 in Jefferson Parish — were still without power on Friday, five days after the Category 4 Hurricane Ida hit southeast Louisiana.
“We’ve restored 225,000 customers in all of Louisiana. That’s from a peak of 904,000 that lost power in Hurricane Ida,” said Entergy Louisiana CEO Philip May in a Friday morning press call. “Through the weekend we’re going to continue to see more progress.”
In total, more than 14,000 poles were damaged during the storm, more than during Hurricane Laura last year in southwest Louisiana. That includes nearly 1,100 in New Orleans alone. May said that as of Friday, Entergy has completed assessing 71 percent of the damaged areas in Louisiana. Across the region, 79 of 197 of impacted power substations were ready to serve customers once other necessary repairs have been made, he said.
Restoration estimates were not yet available for the areas that sustained the most severe damage from the storm, including Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes.
“We are still in the process” of assessing damage in those areas, May said. Assessment work has been slowed significantly in areas that experienced severe flooding
“For many of these areas, this will not be a repair. It will be a rebuild,” May said.
Entergy New Orleans CEO Deanna Rodriguez said that, in total, 41,000 customers — or about 20 percent of the New Orleans customer base — has been restored. Hospitals, including the Tulane Medical Center, Tulane Medical School, VA Hospital, University Medical Center and Ochsner Health’s main campus, have been restored.
The Sewerage and Water Board announced Friday morning that Drainage Pump Station 1 (near Broadmoor), Drainage Pump Station 2 (North Broad Street) and Drainage Pump Station 14 (eastern New Orleans) were back on Entergy power. And the East Bank Wastewater Treatment Plant — which lost generator power on Wednesday, forcing the utility to divert raw sewage into Bayou Bienvenue and the Mississippi River — is now fully reconnected as well, but operations have not yet been fully restored there.
Customers in the Central Business Business District and French Quarter have already been mostly restored. Remaining outages in those areas should be fixed by Saturday, according to the company.
Entergy New Orleans CEO Deanna Rodriguez said that the company has been fielding many questions about why the CBD and French Quarter have been prioritized for restoration above other neighborhoods. She said that along with the critical infrastructure, like hospitals, located in or near those areas, many of the thousands of power restoration workers who have come into the city are staying there.
“While it seems counterintuitive, it’s a good thing we have the CBD up,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez added that customers should expect to see neighborhood-by-neighborhood restoration estimates soon. (The Entergy outage map has experienced technical issues, causing discrepancies and inaccurate information, over the past several days.)
Shortly after the Friday press call, New Orleans City Councilwoman Helena Moreno sent a tweet that she said shows the company’s current restoration estimates for New Orleans neighborhoods. The estimates, available here and copied directly from the information provided in the tweet, show that most areas are expected to be restored by next week. A small number of neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Orleans Parish may not see complete restoration until later this month.
Meanwhile, over the past day, there have been reports of residents receiving bill reminders from Entergy New Orleans, including threats of possible “service disruption” for missing payments.
Following the morning press call, Entergy spokesperson Lee Sabatini told The Lens that, for customers with restored power, disconnections for non-payment have been temporarily suspended.
“Customers may receive automated billing payment reminders that processed prior to, and during, Hurricane Ida’s impact,” Sabatini wrote in an email. “During this period of restoration, customers in the impacted area will not be disconnecting due to non-payment.”
It was not clear as of Friday afternoon how Entergy will define the “period of restoration.” In a follow-up email, Sabatini wrote, “All Entergy New Orleans and Entergy Louisiana collections and disconnects are on pause till further notice.”
Some customers who live in areas where power has been restored may not have service. That includes those with damage to overhead lines connecting their homes or businesses to Entergy distribution lines. Customers who sustained damage to those lines should turn off their circuit breakers and contact an electrician to repair them in order to restore service. Those who experienced flooding are also being told to shut off circuit breakers and consult an electrician.
This story has been updated with additional information about Entergy bill collection as power restoration continues.