From Sept. 5, 2021, line repair work at the corner of St. Claude Avenue and Poland Avenue in New Orleans. (Charles Maldonado/The Lens)

One week after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, Entergy has restored power to 39 percent of the 902,000 customers who lost power during the storm, executives said on Sunday. In the city of New Orleans, 39 percent of 205,000 customers who lost power have been reconnected. 

“Today is one week since we began feeling the effects of Hurricane Ida,” Entergy Louisiana CEO Philip May said during a Sunday press call. “The level of destruction and devastation is unprecedented. For instance we have more than 30,000 damaged or destroyed distribution poles. That far exceeds the number of poles in Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike.”

Entergy has now identified 30,679 poles that were damaged or destroyed in the impacted region. Only 2,470 have been replaced or repaired, according to Entergy Louisiana’s Vice President of Distribution Operations, John Hawkins.

Entergy New Orleans CEO Deanna Rodriguez said that power had been restored to 79,000 customers out of the city’s 205,000 customers. Rodriguez touted the restoration of power to the Central Business District, where the company is housing 5,000 people who are part of its restoration workforce.

She also said that grid power had been restored to a Port of New Orleans storage facility, the New Orleans Police Department headquarters, the city’s jail, Lakefront Airport and residential customers in parts of the Irish Channel, Fontainebleau, Mid-City, Audubon, Lakeview, Garden District and Lower Garden District.

Rodriguez said the company was “making progress” in Algiers and that lights were beginning to come back on. But she also indicated that certain repairs in the neighborhood could take additional time. 

“In Algiers, our crews are encountering work that has to be completed in backyards and unfortunately this requires specialized equipment, so it may take some time,” she said.

Rodriguez said that overall, the company continues to estimate a full restoration for Orleans Parish customers by Sept. 8, with the exception of a small number of customers on the easternmost edge of the parish, on the east side of Chef Menteur Pass.

“That’s where we think it may extend out an additional three weeks,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also responded to concerns that the company’s response to the storm will result in higher customer bills but did not offer any new information. 

“Now is not the time for us to be having these discussions. We’re still in restoration phase, and we do not want to distract from the important work of restoring customers,” she said. “We appreciate our regulators’ concerns, and rest assured that when the time comes, we can get through the storm, get everyone’s lights back on, we will be happy to work with the various government entities, including the federal government, the state and our local leadership to look for supplemental funds to meet infrastructure needs in this community.”

Hawkins noted that the company had received questions from customers who got power restored and then lost it again. He said that some repairs require temporarily shutting down power to certain portions of the grid, but that the company was working to make these intentional outages as short as possible.

“There might be instances where we need to de-energize customers to safely perform additional repairs,” Hawkins said. “But note that we’re working to minimize the impact to our customers as much as possible.”

May said that Entergy’s damage assessment was 100 percent complete, up from 97 percent complete on Saturday. He acknowledged that the most important thing to customers was getting their power back, but stressed that this was a vital and important step in the restoration process.

He said the company had also restored power to several critical customers, including Tulane Lakeside Hospital, Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite, North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, Ochsner Health Center in Clearview, St. Bernard Parish Hospital and East Jefferson General Hospital.

May also pointed to progress returning power to the company’s largest customers that are served directly through the regional transmission system, rather than a local distribution system like most residents and small businesses. He said the company had restored power to 45 of its 53 biggest customers. He did not name the companies. 

“These customers are served off of our transmission grid which has largely been repaired,” May said. “These customers are critical as they supply important commodities such as gasoline, and in much respects, they are the backbone of the communities we serve.”

Michael Isaac Stein

Michael Isaac Stein covers New Orleans' cultural economy and local government for The Lens. Before joining the staff, he freelanced for The Lens as well as The Intercept, CityLab, The New Republic, and...