Local News

N.C. Power Crews Restoring Life To Communities In Louisiana

Posted September 11, 2005

— The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed right over the Bogalusa, La., community, packing 145 mile per hour winds and no mercy.

The town, about 60 miles north of New Orleans, lost 100 percent of its power.

Duke Power sent Steve Cruise, a regional manager from Durham, to supervise hundreds of workers in the restoration effort.

"I've done this for about 35 years. This is a whole new chapter," Cruise said. "This is off the Richter scale of anything we've ever seen before."

Cruise said his crews were having to rebuild the town's entire electrical infrastructure.

"We're doing everything we can to end the suffering as soon as possible," Cruise said.

Duke Power has 1,400 workers in Louisiana, and Progress Energy has a crew of 500.

The workers are living in camps and sleeping in tents or on the floor at local schools and churches.

Plus, "The guys are working 16, 17 hour days. It's rough, and it's hot," Duke Power supervisor Phil Sparks said.

But, he added, there have been few complaints.

Just as other states have helped North Carolina after hurricanes, the workers said North Carolina too has an obligation to help the Gulf Coast.

"When we get hit, people come to help us," Progress Energy lineman Brett Graham said. "And when they get hit, we do the same."

And the people in Bogalusa appreciate the workers' efforts.

The residents offer the crews water and food, and they even cook for them.

One sign -- written with red spray paint on plywood -- near the entrance of one of the workers' base camps in Amite, La., simply reads: "Thank you Duke Power -- William."

"Duke Power came in and they're doing a wonderful job so far," hurricane victim James Brignac said. "We expect power today."

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