Unfortunately, now her phone's not working - and neither is the phone for the facility where she lives. So I haven't had any updates today. I'm hoping for the best and will try again this evening. If I don't reach her, I'll start in on her friends.
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Entergy Corp (ETR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Louisiana's largest utility, on Tuesday said 70 percent of its 1.1 million customers were without power a day after Hurricane Gustav slammed into the Gulf Coast, rivaled only by 2005's Hurricane Katrina in its destruction.
Entergy warned of "extremely severe damage" to its transmission grid, and said 13 of 14 key transmission lines carrying power to New Orleans were out of service.
"The damage is not as severe as Katrina in New Orleans," said Dennis Dawsey, Entergy's vice president of distribution. "In Baton Rouge, we saw significant damage."
Restoring electricity to homes and businesses will require a delicate balancing act. The utility must match transmission capacity and generation capacity or risk triggering a widespread blackout due to power imbalances, Dawsey said.
While Gustav's impact on the state was less severe than devastation left by Katrina's flooding, its damage to Entergy's grid was worse, particularly in the Baton Rouge area, said Renae Conley, president of two Entergy utility units serving Louisiana.
BEAUMONT, Texas " The path of Hurricane Gustav offered New Orleans a reprieve, but 80 miles away where utilities say the devastation was the worst they have ever seen, the storm offered nothing but punishment.
The region’s top power company, Entergy Corp., said the Baton Rouge area has never suffered damage as severe as that caused by Gustav. The last storm that caused damage close to Gustav was in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida, crossed the Gulf of Mexico and then slammed Louisiana.
The story is the same across Acadiana. SLEMCO has restored power to two-thirds of its customers, but 29,000 are still without electricity.
Cleco, hit hardest of all, still has about 110,000 of its 246,000 customers out. Cleco said more of its customers were blacked out by Gustav than by Lili, Katrina or Rita.
The Lafayette Utilities System has restored power to all but about 1,500 of its 60,000 customers.
Co-op Dixie Electric Membership Corp., based in Baton Rouge, at one-time reported all 95,000 members were without power. The last time that happened: 1992.
Thanks for the concern, everybody. Mom's power came back on Wednesday evening.
She was being stubborn, and absolutely refused to leave. She's 79, blind, and doesn't get around well. Her apartment is the only place she wants to be - even if it's 90-some degrees.
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008; 11:34 AM
The American Red Cross said this morning it is going deep into debt to fund a $70 million Hurricane Gustav relief effort, an unusual occurrence even as the nation's biggest disaster-aid charity braces for a trio of powerful storms lurking in the Atlantic.
The Red Cross has raised less than $5 million toward its Gustav expenses, officials said. To recoup its Gustav cost -- most of it borrowed money -- the nonprofit organization plans to roll out an aggressive national campaign Monday.
Never Again,’ Again
Published: September 20, 2008
Hurricane Gustav gave the state of Louisiana a test for which it had three years to prepare. There were thousands of poor, sick, disabled and elderly people who could not get out on their own. They needed to be rescued with dispatch, and sheltered in safety and dignity.
The state flunked.
Three years to the week after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, Louisiana executed a fundamentally unfair evacuation plan and did it badly. It relied on dividing the population into separate streams: People with their own cars were directed to shelters run by parishes, churches and the Red Cross. People with medical problems not requiring hospitalization were taken to special shelters. Sex offenders had a shelter to themselves.
All those without a car or a ride were taken on state buses to four state-run warehouses. It was in these shelters, including two abandoned stores, a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club, that thousands of working-poor New Orleanians got a sickening reminder of Katrina.
Evacuees said they had had no idea where they were going; bus drivers would not tell them. When they arrived, there were not enough portable toilets, and no showers. For five days there was no way to bathe, except with bottled water in filthy outdoor toilets. Privacy in the vast open space " 1,000 people to a warehouse, shoulder-to-shoulder on cots " was nonexistent. The mood among evacuees was grim, surrounded as they were by police officers and the National Guard, with no visitors or reporters allowed.
“We didn’t want to evacuate into a prison,” Lethia Brooks told the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, an organization that accompanied the evacuees, inspected the shelters and collected hundreds of stories into a report sharply critical of the state’s response.
Gustav ended up being no Katrina, and the week of suffering was not as severe as the deathly mayhem of three years ago. But residents had every right to expect far better treatment than they received. After a week of indignities in crowded, unsanitary shelters, many returned home with their fragile finances in turmoil. They had been forced to buy extra basics while out of their homes, and September rent was due.
The secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Social Services, which was responsible for the shelters, resigned after this scandal and one involving problems with food stamp distribution.
Now, many poor residents are vowing “never again,” as in, “Never again will we get on the bus to be warehoused. We’ll ride out the next storm.” In New Orleans, disaster is never far away, and government incompetence cannot be allowed to undermine a swift, sure evacuation. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration should move quickly on a better plan that does not expose the poor to differential, substandard treatment.