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TECO sends crews to Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ida recovery

More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power. The local utility is sending 150 people to help.
Crews from Tampa Electric Co. are headed to Louisiana to help restore power after hurricane Ida, as they did here when Hurricane Rita hit Texas in 2005.
Crews from Tampa Electric Co. are headed to Louisiana to help restore power after hurricane Ida, as they did here when Hurricane Rita hit Texas in 2005. [ Tampa Bay Times (2005) ]
Published Aug. 30
Updated Aug. 30

A day after many people fled Louisiana as Hurricane Ida ravaged the state, crews from Tampa Electric Co. began a drive north to the battered state.

Their goal: Restore power to residents as soon as possible and as safely as possible, the utility said in a news release. They’ll have their work cut out for them; Ida blacked out all of New Orleans on Monday morning, officials there said.

TECO says it’s prepared for workers to stay in Louisiana for up to two weeks if necessary.

Related: New Orleans blacked out as Hurricane Ida floods Louisiana, Mississippi

Safety protocols of working in a hurricane zone are likely to take precedent but TECO said Sunday its workers will also be taking precautions against the coronavirus.

“The crews will be using appropriate pandemic protocols, such as one person in each truck, wearing masks, checking their temperature and properly disinfecting tools and other surfaces,” TECO said in a news release. “Meals will be individually boxed, and crews will practice social distancing.”

Among the 150 people headed to Louisiana, TECO says about a third are line workers and support personnel who left at dawn Sunday to drive to Slidell, La. They’ll be helping local electric company Cleco Power. Another 100 contractors from Tampa Bay are also en route to the are state to assist utility Entergy Louisiana.

Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday night in Louisiana as a devastating Category 4 storm Sunday, bringing high winds, flooding and widespread power outages.

More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide, increasing their vulnerability to flooding and leaving them without air conditioning and refrigeration in the sweltering summer heat.

TECO is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, which is a network of utilities that pledge mutual assistance in case of a storm or other emergency. Crews supporting the restoration efforts of other utilities are paid by the host utility.