Before dawn Saturday, the houses on Almonaster Avenue glowed under porch lights and streetlights. One block away, Franklin Avenue was utterly dark.
Fast-moving Hurricane Zeta had toppled hundreds of utility poles, ripped down power lines and blown transformers across the New Orleans area. But three days later, the restoration process left the region in a hard-to-decipher patchwork of light and darkness.
Here’s the breakdown by parish and Entergy’s restoration schedule
Near Franklin and North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans, neighbors scratched their heads at two houses on the same block, two doors apart: One had power; the other did not. Farther down Claiborne, near Poland Avenue, two sisters who live in the same apartment building said only one had lights. So the pots bubbled on one stove and the entire extended family gathered there, using flashlights to walk between units.
Powerline crews from 13 states have been making progress on hurricane-damaged lines throughout the region. On Friday night, Entergy Louisiana said that although 480,000 of its customers had lost power from Zeta, crews had restored electricity to 245,000, more than half, within 48 hours. The utility issued a rough timeline, by city and neighborhood, for remaining customers, most of whom should be restored this weekend, with repairs extending into Tuesday a few places, including Waggaman and parts of Plaquemines Parish.
By mid-afternoon Saturday, the number of customers without Entergy power had dropped to 198,863 – half of them in Jefferson Parish. Another quarter were in Orleans, where 56,427 still lacked commercial power, as did 6,666 in Plaquemines. More than 13,152 lacked electricity in St. Bernard Parish, where a series of fractured utility poles just below Jackson Barracks helped to explain why Entergy had projected restoration on Wednesday for Arabi and Chalmette and Thursday for the Poydras community.
Hundreds of thousands of residents across the New Orleans area woke up to another day without power Friday as the area’s utilities continued t…
Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative showed only 147 customers in St. Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes were out of power on Saturday. Cleco data showed that almost 1,300 customers still affected, almost all of them in St. Tammany.
On Oak Street in New Orleans, though Amy Hillberry had no electricity for her business, One 2 One Salon, she made the best of a nice day by coloring two customers’ hair on the porch. “These women wanted their hair done, and we wanted to work. So we said, ‘Let’s get these people in,’” said Hillberry, noting that it was actually warmer outside than inside.
In the St. Roch neighborhood in New Orleans, where Entergy estimated power would return by Monday, Diane Pryer, 63, swept leaves from the street in front of her house on Franklin between North Galvez and Miro streets.
90% to have lights before Thursday
Dressed in a flannel jacket against the chill of the morning, Pryer said her neighbors’ houses on Almonaster had been lighted since maybe Friday. But she been through storm-prompted power outages for years, and she knew Entergy’s usual rhythms. So she did not expect electricity for herself until Sunday, at the earliest.
“Not here, on this block,” Pryer said. “Everyone else usually gets power first. We’re always a day or two later.”
Luckily, if Pryer wanted to relax and watch television, she could walk a few blocks to her sister’s house on the other side of Franklin. Electricity there had been on for at least a day. Between the two houses, a smattering of people had power. “Some do, some don’t,” Pryer said.
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In the to-go line at Waffle House on Old Gentilly Road, customer Gordon McKey said he had no lights but others in his family did. The logic of it was unclear, he said: “It’s hit and miss.”
Outside his home on Esplanade Avenue, Bill Edwards, like Pryer, was relying partly on conventional wisdom to understand where he stood in power grid. After the agonizingly long outages wrought by slow-moving Hurricane Isaac, which sat over the New Orleans area for 12 hours in 2012, Edwards, 65, a contractor, talked shop with powerline crews. He was told the downtown side of Esplanade between North Prieur and North Broad streets was all part of a lower-priority “industrial zone” stretching to the Industrial Canal.
Other residents had also heard about zones. A woman in the upper Bywater said she was told that her zone was taking awhile to repair because it was so large, stretching from the Mississippi River to Gentilly.
Hundreds of thousands across metro New Orleans and southeast Louisiana were left powerless from Hurricane Zeta.
But Entergy spokesman Brandon Scardigli, after consulting a few coworkers, said crews weren’t making fixes based on zones or past repair patterns.
“It really depends on the damage we see,” Scardigli said. First repaired are those customers deemed critical: hospitals, fire stations and communication systems. Next came repairs “that will get the largest amount of customers back online.” House-to-house and block-to-block differences could be explained by per-block damage and issues with substation feeder lines, he said.
On Saturday afternoon, as his pet macaw, Rikki, hollered from a nearby tree, Edwards said he was heartened whenever he looked toward the intersection of Esplanade and North Galvez, where three bucket trucks had arrived, each carrying five workers. The workers he’d met had driven in from Missouri to help with repairs, he said, as he watched them switch out a rotten wooden crossbeam and “replace antiquated stuff on a pole with stuff that won’t break.”
Edwards concluded that perhaps Zeta’s winds were prompting some long-needed fixes. “It’s been a while since this infrastructure was repaired,” he said.