Parts of the Miss-Lou begin to get power

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — Entergy crews began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel earlier than they expected Tuesday evening.

Original estimates of up to a week or more without any electricity in Adams County have been lowered to just a day or two more.

Areas of both Concordia Parish and downtown Natchez saw power at about 9 p.m. Tuesday evening as electricity slowly returned to the area.

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Crews were working at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday to repair one of the five transmission lines that fuels the county. All five were damaged in Hurricane Gustav.

“If we could just get one of those lines up, we could feed a lot of businesses and restaurants,” Entergy Customer Service Manager Stephen Caruthers said.

High on the list of areas to power are the two hospitals and medical community in Natchez. But when the hospitals light up, other areas will too, Caruthers said.

Wind gusts of 60 miles per hour during Gustav and already wet grounds toppled trees and limbs, which in turn took down power lines.

High winds that continued through the night Monday and Tuesday morning prevented Entergy crews from being able to repair lines.

“Even though the customers have been out (for nearly two days), this has really been the first day of our restoration efforts,” Caruthers said.

“This weekend we’ll have pretty much everybody up,” he said.

But some homeowners with heavily damaged property will have to have an electrician do home repairs before their houses will be ready for electricity, Caruthers said.

Due to the outages, the National Weather Service lost power at their Adams County observation site shortly after 4:30 p.m. Monday. The highest wind speed they clocked was 44 miles per hour, but that was well before the worst of the storm entered the area.

In Baton Rouge winds reached 82 mph. Alexandria winds were gusting into the 40 mph speed.

Much of Adams County received between 4 and 5 inches of rain. Between 5 and 6 inches was reported in a few locations.

Caruthers said Adams, Amite and Wilkinson counties received the most damage to power lines. Statewide, 35,000 customers were without power. Fifty percent of those are in Southwest Mississippi.

But Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton said the city was handling things as smoothly as possible.

“For pretty much a catastrophe, it’s being handled really well,” Middleton said.

“Me personally and the board of aldermen are very pleased with the way things are going.”

He said public works and water works did a good job getting the roads cleared and safe.

Middleton has requested additional Mississippi Highway Patrol officers and has even been offered National Guard presence by Gov. Haley Barbour.

But he said with the additional highway patrol and Mississippi Department of Transportation officers, the National Guard won’t be necessary.

He also said he requested more stop signs from MDOT to put up at major intersections will traffic signals are still out.

He urged residents to stay off the streets.

“Safety is our foremost concern,” Middleton said.