Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Entergy responds to hurricanes with emergency response sites

By Rupert Howell

Batesville Civic Center’s spill over parking area would have resembled a refugee or army camp this week but a westerly turn by Hurricane Ike realigned Entergy’s focus closer to Texas.

Workers from Entergy were expected to retreat from the wounded Gulf Coast to re-load and redirect their efforts in anticipation of Ike that is now expected to make landfall in Texas this weekend.

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Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey said that Entergy officials contacted he and Civic Center director Roy Hyde last Friday and confirmed Sunday that the space was needed to set up a bivouac area. Those plans were scuttled around noon Monday after vendors had begun setting up at the civic center. Plans were also canceled to have similar bivouac areas in Tunica and Grenada.

In Natchez, where Hurricane Gustav was especially unfriendly, George Cossar, who lives in Senatobia and is the local spokesman for Entergy, said the tent city was “ramping up there.” Cossar said Entergy was utilizing a 100,000-square-foot building and will park 2,000 electric power service trucks while providing food, showers and shelter for staff that will assemble there.

In Batesville trucks pulling 18-wheel trailers plumbed and wired for dozens of washer/dryers, showers and kitchen appliances were being prepared Monday morning while tents were being raised by EDS, a national on demand support system. By afternoon, those assets were being re-routed.

Locally, Liddel Carter of Traveling Johnny had placed about half of the portable toilets to be used by the electrical crews. A cooking trailer was on the scene and a shower trailer that has seen action at the Atlanta Olympics, Hurricane Katrina and other historical events was on the way.

Entergy Mississippi, Inc. provides electricity to more than 433,000 customers in 45 Mississippi counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation and engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.

Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States delivering electricity to 2.6 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.