Mississippi Power preparing for Hurricane Katrina

Officials at Mississippi Power are intently watching Hurricane Katrina and preparing for whatever effects it may incur in the company’s service area.

“Hurricane Katrina is obviously a significant storm,” said Mississippi Power spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “Should it make landfall anywhere near the Mississippi Coast, we can expect major damage to our electrical system. As the hours pass we should begin to know better what to expect in terms of its strength and direction.”

Mississippi Power’s storm restoration team has been fully mobilized, following the storm’s progress and implementing the company’s recovery plan. Contacts have been made with numerous other utilities around the country to bring in extra crews if damage is significant. Logistical arrangements to house and feed large numbers of outside workers have also been in the works.

“Being part of Southern Company provides significant advantages in finding manpower and materials,” said Brautigam. “There are considerable resources available to us through our sister companies in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, and we also have thousands of other outside linemen available to us if necessary. They will be dispersed wherever the greatest needs are, depending on where the storm lands.”

Arrangements for extra materials, vehicles, and communications networks are currently being made and many of the company’s facilities are being boarded up. Forecasts call for the storm to make landfall sometime Monday, but coastal areas could begin to feel some effects as early as late Sunday.

“Our crews will work as long as they can before the winds make it unsafe,” Brautigam said. “After the storm passes, we have a plan based on a worst case scenario, and we’ll work that plan depending on the amount of damage our system sustains.

“Katrina may wind up being stronger than Hurricane Ivan last year, which interrupted power for customers in Pensacola for up to two weeks. For the most part, we were barely brushed by Ivan, and it knocked out service to more than 70,000 of our customers for a couple of days.

“We are well aware of our responsibility to restore service as quickly and safely as possible. Not only is it a major first step for any community recovering from a natural disaster, it’s also what our customers expect. Our employees are well prepared for this event.”

Safety is always a primary concern during storms. Brautigam urged residents to follow any evacuation orders and also reminded customers who rely on electricity for medically-related equipment to make alternative arrangements for meeting those needs.

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of southern Company, serves approximately 195,000 customers in 23 southeastern Mississippi counties.

Mississippi Power offers these storm tips:

• Stay away from all downed lines. Warn others to do the same and contact Mississippi Power or a local law enforcement agency.

• Wait a reasonable time before calling Mississippi Power if your entire neighborhood is without power. Extra calls jam switchboards and slow repairs.

• Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to electric company employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances – such as freezers and refrigerators – directly to the generator.

• If there is damage to your meter box or the pole on top of your meter box, you must first have an electrician make repairs before Mississippi Power can restore your service.

• If there is flooding in your home or business, Mississippi Power may be unable to restore electric service until the building is inspected by city or county code officials.

• Please be patient. Crews restoring service will work as fast as safety allows. Before neighborhood lines can be restored, Mississippi Power crews must first repair substations and larger lines that bring power to neighborhoods.

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