AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – FirstEnergy Corp. utilities have sent about 500 line workers, forestry crews, support personnel and internal contractors to Louisiana to help Entergy with power restoration efforts following Hurricane Ida.
In a release, FirstEnergy says it has a long-standing tradition of assisting other electric companies during large-scale power outages.
Crews began leaving for Louisiana Sunday morning. They were expected to arrive throughout the day Monday.
Hurricane Ida reached Louisiana Sunday afternoon with extreme winds, storm surge and flash flooding along the northeast Gulf Coast.
Over a million customers have lost power in Louisiana and more than 100,000 have lost power in Mississippi.
Crews will be sent to areas with the most damage when it’s safe. According to FirstEnergy spokesperson Lauren Siburkis, they plan to stay in Baton Rouge for about two weeks.
“Obviously they have a lot of work ahead of them. Their biggest priority is making Louisiana safe and addressing all the hazards,” Siburkis said.
Additionally, 12 team members from the Northern Ohio branch of the American Red Cross left Monday morning to assist on the front lines.
“You’re dealing with a lot of people who have extreme emotions because their homes have been destroyed and they feel a lot of turmoil,” said Red Cross disaster program manager Tom Revolinsky.
FirstEnergy says all 10 of their utilities are part of the mutual assistance effort, which includes crews from The Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison in Ohio; Penn Power, Penelec, West Penn Power and Met-Ed in Pennsylvania; Mon Power in West Virginia; Potomac Edison in West Virginia and Maryland; and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) in New Jersey.
“Many of our linemen have been to Louisiana in the past to help following other hurricanes, and they are committed to assisting what is likely to be a massive power restoration effort in challenging working conditions,” said John Skory, vice president of utility operations for FirstEnergy, in a release. “While it’s not expected that Hurricane Ida will have a significant impact on our FirstEnergy service territories, we have carefully assessed conditions and are confident we have the personnel in place to maintain reliable operations for our customers at home.”
There are multiple electric utility mutual-assistance groups, one of which is FirstEnergy. They work cooperatively to restore service to customers when natural disasters like Hurricane Ida cause large-scale power outages.
The mutual assistance allows them to pool resources to help return power faster.