The intense winds and driving rains of Hurricane Laura shoved trees, utility poles and wires to the ground, leaving 94% of Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) customers in eight central Louisiana parishes without power.
At 5 p.m. on Aug. 27, with restoration in progress, 41,000 customers in DeSoto, Bienville, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Winn and Vernon parishes remained without power.
In total, approximately 128,000 customers were without power, including 79,000 in the Shreveport-Bossier area, 8,100 in Texas and 400 in Arkansas.
“We have 2,500 workers coming to help more than 300 SWEPCO employees restore power. All external crews are assigned to help our customers in Louisiana,” said Drew Seidel, SWEPCO vice president of Distribution Region Operations. “Our Texas-based crews are restoring power to customers in Center, Carthage and other areas in the state hit hard by the storm. Once they complete their work in Texas, they’ll begin working in Louisiana.”
“We expect it will take several days to restore power,” Seidel said.
Customers without power who are on life support systems or need uninterrupted electric service for health reasons should make alternate arrangements.
Hurricane Laura smashed into SWEPCO’s Valley District this morning as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph maximum sustained winds. It continued through northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas as a Category 1 hurricane and tropical storm.
At the peak, 136,000 SWEPCO customers in Louisiana and East Texas were without power.
A soon as it was safe, SWEPCO crews began restoring power to several critical customers in the Ark-La-Tex. Employees are addressing hazards, including hundreds of downed power lines.
“All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous,” Seidel said. “Don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity.”
By dark, SWEPCO’s outage response team will have a high-level assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
“We’ll begin a detailed assessment of the damage first thing tomorrow morning. This will be critical in determining how long it will take us to restore power,” Seidel said.
“The quickest way to get updates on your outage is to sign up for email or text alerts at SWEPCO.com/Alerts,” said Carey Sullivan, SWEPCO director of Communications. “You’ll receive information as soon as we have it in our system.”