Panola County missed the full effects of Hurricane Ivan, but local agencies were prepared for the worst.
"With areas along the northern Gulf Coast now being threatened with Hurricane Ivan, BellSouth is ready as ever to help our customers in every area of the state stay connected," said Rick Stewart, BellSouth Regional Manager.
"We are tried and true with experienced teams of technicians and a supply of generators," continued Stewart. "BellSouth technicians have been working 12-hour shifts to restore all telecommunications services to Florida, and we’re prepared for Ivan."
With very little rainfall attributed to Ivan, residents in Panola County never lost any utility service.
Officials with Entergy Mississippi were closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ivan as they prepared for a major storm restoration effort this weekend.
"We are prepared for this storm," said George Cossar, III, customer service manager for Entergy in this area. "All Entergy Mississippi crews are back from Florida and we have secured hundreds of additional linemen and support staff to handle the expected impact."
Ivan made landfall early yesterday in the vicinity of Mobile, Ala. Entergy expects the storm to impact its Mississippi and Louisiana service areas.
"Hurricane Ivan could have come ashore as a Category 4 storm," said Cossar. "A storm that strong typically spawns tornadoes and strong wind gusts hundreds of miles from the initial impact area. We have to be prepared to respond to damage that could cause outages lasting for days – even weeks," he said.
If the threat to Entergy escalates, Entergy will escalate its response by securing even more workers from other utilities and contractors to assist potential restoration. The company already has linemen and support staff from its Arkansas subsidiary in Mississippi ready to respond if they are needed.
"One advantage of being a multi-state utility is our ability to quickly move crews across our service territory," said Cossar. "Having the Arkansas crews in Jackson will give us a tremendous advantage if the storm hits us hard."
Whether Hurricane Ivan hits Entergy Mississippi directly or turns and impacts other Entergy subsidiaries, the company is committing tremendous amounts of personnel and equipment to the storm.
"Customers in unaffected areas will experience longer response times due to the resources we must commit to this powerful storm," said Cossar. "All of our customers can be assured though that we are working hard to meet all of their service needs. We appreciate their understanding and support during this emergency."
In light of the hardships caused in other parts of the state, area churches and civic organizations worked diligently to help the victims by setting up food and clothing drives along with temporary shelters.
Local hotels reported a full occupant load because of people evacuating Ivan-effected areas.
"We were at our maximum capacity," Nola Jones of the Amerihost Inn said. "Tuesday and Wednesday night, we didn’t have a room to spare.
"People have started checking out because they are hearing they can get back home," she said.