Power restored for more than 10,000 customers following weekend storms

Haley Fisackerly, president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi, discusses recovery efforts...
Haley Fisackerly, president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi, discusses recovery efforts following the weekend's storms.(WLBT)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:58 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Lights are back on for more than 10,000 customers impacted by the weekend’s storms, but efforts to restore electricity are far from over.

Days after a tornado devastated Rolling Fork and Silver City, crews are on the ground rebuilding infrastructure that was destroyed.

Meanwhile, in Winona, temporary transformers are being brought in to restore power while the substation there is rebuilt, said Entergy President and CEO Haley Fisackerly.

“I’m sure some customers are questioning what’s going on. ‘Well, there are no broken poles or lines in my area,’” he said. “What happened there was a tornado took out all three transmission fees, even our redundancies... and had a direct hit on our substation.”

“You don’t have a power source,” he continued. “The good news is we have pulled in a mobile transformer the size of two 18-wheelers... and so they are hooking it up and will start moving power into that area tonight.”

Fisackerly said 12,150 workers have been dispatched to aid in recovery efforts.

The recovery includes installing new utility poles and running new lines and rebuilding circuitry taking out by Friday night’s storms.

“So, last night, some people started to get power back and we’ll make more progress today... but just that storm alone broke 975 poles. Over 700 of those were in the Rolling Fork area,” he said, referring to the EF4 tornado that went through Fork and Silver City.

According to the National Weather Service the storm had an estimated wind peak of 170 miles per hour and had a path of destruction 59.4 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.

“Then, as you know, last Sunday night, we got hit by another storm into Central Mississippi that caused about 21,000 customers to lose power. We’re down to about 3,000 of those,” Fisackerly said.

“The tough part is a lot of rural areas are impacted,” he said. “We get into these rural areas, we have radial lines out and we have a lot of vegetation down... We have flooding in some areas... Tough, tough environment to work in.”

“We’re going to have a number of customers, smaller number of customers, that will go into the weekend [before they get] restored.”

Fisackerly said Entergy has been aided in its assessment efforts by drone technology and satellite imagery.

“One of the toughest things, most frustrating things I know with customers is when a storm comes through, we have to assess the damage,” he said. “We just can’t send trucks out immediately. One, you’ve got debris blocking the way. What’s broken? What supplies are we going to need? So, the crews, the scouts, get out immediately, as soon as they can, to start doing those assessments.”

“One thing that’s helped us are drones,” he said. “When you get to a hard-to-reach situation, or if a road is blocked, and you’re trying to see down there, well, we just pull out a drone, lift it up and fly over it and get an assessment.”

Fisackerly says it’s too early to tell how much repairs will cost.

“One thing customers need to be assured of, we have reserves to pay for this and also, in a customer’s bill, we have storm rider,” he said. “So, we’re always collecting to have funds ready to address this and the mechanisms in place to cover those costs.”

Downed power lines at a building on E. China Street in Rolling Fork.
Downed power lines at a building on E. China Street in Rolling Fork.(WLBT)

Crews were cleaning up in Rolling Fork on Tuesday. As cleanup is underway, Fisackerly is asking customers to stay away from downed power lines.

“I know you’ve got a lot of debris in your yard. Pay attention. Wires can be tangled in there. Don’t assume there’s not power flowing,” he said. “The other thing is, if your home has received damage, especially to the weather head where your power source comes in, or to the meter base, you need to get a licensed electrician and fix that so you’re ready to receive power when we restore it.”

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