Local Utility Ready To Assist Those Affected By Isaac

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in Louisiana, and the area's utility company has asked for assistance in helping restore power.

Linemen and support personnel from CenterPoint here in Houston will be making the trip to Lafayette, Louisiana.

"We're taking 60 linemen, plus 18 support, and about 40 vehicles."

That's Thomas Klesel, CenterPoint Operations Manager at the Hiram-Clarke substation in southwest Houston.

"We will all have job assignments when we get there. A lineman can do all aspects of the job, climbing poles, getting in the bucket trucks, setting poles. They can do it all."

Hernandez: "So, is the situation like, expect the worst and hope for the best?"

Klesel: "Absolutely, always. And we expect a lot of water that we're gonna have to deal with, a lot of trees down on power lines, and a lot of poles down."

He expects the crew to be busy for the next 7 to 10 days at the minimum. Entergy in Louisiana has asked for over 4,000 additional mutual assistance and contract workers from outside its service territory to help restore power.

"Some of these people have already been in Florida. They've been there in Florida for a few days. They cleared up the power down in Florida, got those people back on, and now, they're being redeployed into Louisiana."

Hernandez: "The way the power is transmitted all over the country, is it universal?"

Klesel: "Yes. The voltages may be different, but the power lines and poles are basically all the same."

Klesel says once they get the call to help, crews will be on the road to Louisiana within hours.

"We'll got to a staging site, and we'll have to put our employees through a safety orientation. Entergy will provide us with a safety orientation, so we'll go through it there before we go to work. You know, the voltages that we're dealing with, the type of construction, what kind of hazards that they have out there. Going into Louisiana, you know, you got the alligators and you got the snakes, and things they don't make mention of."

Houston was on the receiving end of this kind of assistance following Hurricane Ike in 2008. At that time, CenterPoint brought in 11,000 utility workers from as far north as Canada to restore power in the Houston area.

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