With construction and service crews still in western Louisiana, Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Sally, which is forecast to bring storm surge, hurricane-force winds and flash flooding along the Gulf Coast as soon as late Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Fourteen Alabama co-ops have sent crews in rotations to Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BECi) in DeRidder, Louisiana, since Hurricane Laura made landfall Aug. 27. The damage to western Louisiana and eastern Texas was extensive; the storm caused a system-wide outage that knocked out electricity to more than 1 million people, including all 43,000 members of BECi.
As of Sunday, Sept. 13, power has been restored to more than 16,000 meters throughout BECi’s service territory; 2,500 poles and hundreds of miles of electrical wire have been replaced.
BECi has been grateful for the assistance to get power restored to its member-owners, but understands that Alabama’s co-ops have to be prepared to help their own members should Sally cause outages. Some, but not all, of Alabama’s co-ops have recalled their crews; the co-ops stand ready to return to Louisiana to continue restoration there, once the danger from Sally has passed.
As always, safety is the top priority in any restoration effort, and the Alabama Rural Electric Association has sent several of its safety staff to BECi to offer assistance.
Meanwhile, the Alabama co-ops, particularly in the western and southern parts of the state, are watching the rapidly strengthening Sally. There is a hurricane warning in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border. Gov. Kay Ivey issued a State of Emergency on Monday.
Alabama’s 22 rural electric cooperatives deliver power to more than 1 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, and they maintain more than 71,000 miles of power line.