Alexandria, La. (August 31, 2020) — City of Alexandria crews, along with more than 150 contractors and utility service personnel from around the country, continued to work to restore electrical power and clear tree debris caused by Hurricane Laura Thursday morning.
“We were able to make big gains the first few days in terms of the number of customers with service restored, going from 25 percent of customers to 50 percent, then 69 percent and then 82 percent,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “We have all of the main circuits restored, and now we are into the more difficult work of restoring feeder lines and taps to individual homes. I understand that five days without power is tough. Everyone wants to be the first one to get their power back and nobody wants to be the last one, but we are dealing with a storm that caused tremendous damage to our system. My heart goes out to every resident who is still without power, and I want you to know we are working as quickly as we can to get your service restored. We are coming. I appreciate your patience and we will get to each of you just as fast as we can.”
Utility Director Michael Marcotte said 86 percent of customers have had service restored as of 6 p.m. Monday evening, leaving approximately 3,500 still waiting for restoration. “When recovering from an event like this you hit a plateau, where you make big strides in the first few days and then it gets slower as you work to restore the hardest hit areas and address individual homes. So while it took four days to get roughly 80 percent of the customers back on line, it could take just as long to get the last 20 percent restored,” he said. “We have to work from the top down, starting at the substations and then the main lines all the way down to fixing broken poles and transformers in a customer’s back yard. That’s where we are now, working on those individual sites. And when you get to this point, you could have 15 people working an area all day just to restore 20 homes. It’s that time consuming.”
Marcotte said that if a customer notices electricity is restored around them but not at their home they should report the issue to the city call center at 318-473-1301 or in the AlexConnects App. so utility officials can follow up. “There are a number of reasons that can happen, from an issue with the line to something with the customer’s house,” he said.
Marcotte added that residents who have damage to their home’s electrical system will need to contact a licensed electrician to make repairs before the city can reconnect service. “It’s critical that the work is done by a licensed electrician,” he said. “Once that is done, the city will come inspect the work and then we can restore the power.”
Regarding the city water system, Hall said a citywide boil advisory remains in effect. “We are also providing free bottled water for residents during this time. We started that Saturday and we will have water available again Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. in the downtown Mini Park across from City Hall.”
In addition to utility service work, crews began working to pick up tree debris from residences across the city. Residents are reminded to place their tree waste at the curb for pickup and that piles should only contain tree waste. Other trash, including construction debris like shingles and fence panels, should be piled separately. Also, household garbage collection resumed Monday following the normal pick up schedule.
Repair work continues at the Alexandria Zoo. Workers from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans as well as the Animal World and Snake Farm in New Braunfels, Texas, and a Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue and Recovery team from Fort Worth, Texas. Due to heavy damage, the Alexandria Zoo remains closed until further notice.
Also, the Utility Customer Service Office at 625 Murray Street will be closed for utility payments. Customers may pay by mail, online or by check or money order in the utility drop box.
Residents should continue to report power outages and other service requests in the AlexConnects App or by calling the city call center at 318-473-1301. Also continue to watch the city’s Facebook page at City of Alexandria – Government for the latest updates and advisories.