As of Thursday morning, more than 900,000 people in Louisiana still did not have power four stiflingly muggy days after Hurricane Ida made landfall. It’s why Ameren is sending more than 300 workers from across Illinois and Missouri to Baton Rouge to assist in repairing damage and restoring power to the communities affected by the storm, according to a news release.
These linemen, fleet personnel, safety officers and other workers rendezvoused Wednesday evening in Cape Girardeau ahead of a planned two-week deployment, though Landy Wince, director of Ameren’s Meramec Valley division, said Ameren could look into having workers on the Gulf for longer depending on how much work they find.
Some of these personnel might live in Franklin County, though Wince said he couldn’t confirm if local workers were among the delegation heading south.
The workers are part of a mutual assistance network through the Edison Electric Institute, which Wince said is a partnership between power companies to send emergency help.
“Of course, no business has an unlimited amount of resources, so when you get catastrophic events like this, you have to reach out to neighbors and work together to do what you have to do to get the power restored,” Wince said.
Most recently, Wince said local companies utilized the pact after a storm in early August knocked out power for 93,000 customers in Missouri. Wince said Ameren is keeping close tabs on the weather here in the Midwest in case another such storm rolls through while the company has workers in Baton Rouge.
“We’re not out of storm season, as you can tell, here in Missouri, so we just can’t deplete all of our workforce,” he said.
While in Louisiana, Wince said there is no telling what kind of work repair crews might be doing. He said poles, transformers and high-power transmission lines are all down and in need of work.
“You name it from A to Z,” he said. “When this type of storm comes into play, they’re going to be doing every level of work they possibly could be doing.”
Wince said energy companies in Louisiana have provided guidance on what kind of equipment the crews should pack for work, including generators, high-bucket trucks and equipment to work on underground lines in addition to specialized equipment that crews, accustomed to Midwestern wind and ice storms, know to have handy.
When the workers get to Baton Rouge Thursday, Wince said they will start almost immediately working on projects that leadership local to the area have assigned to them.
“We’ll get down there, and our leadership will talk to Entergy (the largest electricity provider in Louisiana) folks,” he said. “They may give us an assigned area to work in, where we get a list of things that we need to do, and we just go to work.”