Mississippi Power preparing for Hurricane Katrina 8/28

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

“Hurricane Katrina is a dangerous, powerful storm,” said Mississippi Power spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “It appears to be coming toward the Mississippi Coast and will move straight up through our service area. We expect major damage to our electrical system. We haven’t seen a potential for destruction like this since Hurricane Camille.”

Mississippi Power’s storm restoration team has been fully mobilized for several days, 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.”

At this point, more than 3,000 outside workers are on standby to provide assistance after the storm passes. Arrangements for extra materials, vehicles, and communications networks have also been made.

“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,” Brautigam said. “We’ll assess the damage as quickly as possible and determine how long it might take to rebuild the system.”

“Katrina will be significantly stronger than Hurricane Ivan last year, which interrupted power for customers in Pensacola for up to two weeks.”

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.

“Everyone needs to be aware of downed lines and poles in the aftermath of the storm,” he said. “Avoid all possible contact with any lines. We also urge anyone using a portable generator to exercise extreme care and follow all pertinent operating instructions.”

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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