GULFPORT, MS Five days after its service territory was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Power employees and outside crews have been able to restore service to more than 36 percent of the companys customers.
Mississippi Power gives priority to hospitals, water and sewer treatment facilities, police, fire and other critical customers for the overall safety and well-being of the community at large. Individuals with critical medical needs should consider making contingency plans in case power outages last for an extended period of time.
Power has now been restored to more than 61,000 of the companys customers, said Kurt Brautigam, company spokesman. We saw substantial progress throughout our service area Saturday. We restored service to more than 20,000 customers and were able to re-energize several additional substations, including Wiggins and Lumberton. That continues to allow us to re-energize more and more of our main distribution lines, which will then enable our crews to move off the main streets and into more neighborhoods.
We were also able to restore service to numerous essential customers such as hospitals, city water wells and lift stations, and substations that serve our wholesale electric cooperative customers.
Workers are continuing to try to re-energize substations serving the companys hardest hit areas in Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, many of which were flooded and suffered extensive damage.
Were also accelerating the number of workers we have coming to our area, Brautigam said. We expect to have nearly 8,000 outside workers overall and, fortunately, weve been able to get them sooner than we first thought. Many are coming straight from Florida and Alabama after completing restoration efforts there.
The morale and productivity of our employees is remarkable, especially as we continue to see more progress, said Brautigam. Everyone is working extremely hard, trying to help our customers recover.
Theres still a long way to go, but as we continue to move forward its important for our customers to stay patient and safe. As more service is restored, they need to be aware of downed lines and stay away from them.
Mississippi Powers outage reporting line: 800-ITS-DARK (800-487-3275).
Customer restoration totals by division as of 6 a.m. 9/4/05:
Coast 14,169 19%
Pine Belt 21,051 35%
Meridian 26,184 70%
As always, safety is the first priority in any storm restoration effort. Here are some important storm-related tips for customers to consider:
SAFETY FIRST! Stay away from downed lines. Warn others to do the same. Beware of lines that are touching a vehicle. Stay away from the vehicle and the line. Do not drive over lines lying on the road, and do not drive under low hanging lines. Keep children and pets away from downed lines. Always assume a
downed power line is live. Do not attempt to remove tree limbs or anything else
caught in power lines. Call Mississippi Power at 800-ITS-DARK (800-487-3275) or a local law enforcement agency if downed lines are spotted.
Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to Mississippi Power employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances such as freezers and refrigerators directly to the generator.
To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, operate generators outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area that is away from air intakes to the home and protected from direct exposure to rain or snow. A good location is an open shed, under a canopy or a carport. Never use a portable generator indoors or in attached garages.
Most small gasoline powered generators purchased at home improvement stores are designed for appliances to be plugged directly into them rather than plugging the generator into the home`s wiring. Be sure to use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge that is adequate for the appliance load. If you need to connect a generator directly to your home wiring, it should be done by a qualified electrical contractor, and a switch to disconnect your home wiring from the utility system should be installed and used before connecting the generator.
Having a generator connected directly to household wiring without this switch can result in power from your generator feeding back into utility wires, creating a deadly threat to you, your neighbors and to repair crews.
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.
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, serves 195,000 customers in 23 Southeast Mississippi counties. For more information and daily updates on the companys progress toward restoring service, go to www.mississippipower.com.
With more than 4 million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Visit the Southern Company Web site at www.southerncompany.com.