We power life

Senior offers inside look at Entergy’s services

We power life

Kaila Low, Managing Editor

Southeast Texas has been consistently hammered by hurricanes in the past few years. First responders and civilians alike rally together to serve the community and help others around them. The citizens and businesses in affected areas face a number of challenges, including the loss of electricity due to storm damage. This is where Entergy steps in.  

“One of the greatest assets Entergy has is also one of our greatest burdens,” Vice President of Distribution Operations Allen East said. “A large and critical part of our service territory is along the Gulf Coast, so we get a great deal of practice with dealing with hurricanes.” 

To prepare for these storms, Entergy conducts an all-day storm drills in the spring, some of them lasting two days. All of the key leaders in each branch of the storm Incident Command Structure come together and go over the processes and procedures. This helps knock the rust off from previous years as well as train new employees that may be new to their role. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, last year’s storm drill also focused on how to inject Covid-19 protocols (social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, etc.) into the storm processes and procedures.  

“The pandemic does introduce additional challenges,” Senior Manager of Warehousing, Inventory, and Logistics Scott McCann said. “Safety and health are out highest priority every day. We are stocking pandemic supplies like masks and hand sanitizer to help keep our normal operations going and when necessary our storm restoration resources with PPE as they work to restore power as safely and quickly as possible.” 

The most devastating recent hurricane to hit SETX, Hurricane Laura, left nearly 300,000 people without power for weeks across Southeast TexasHurricane Delta followed only six weeks later and resulted in 110,000 customers without power. To be without power for weeks seems like such a long time but with so many people to service, you wonder how warehouse managers and line workers got material out to hurricane affected areas so quickly. According to McCann, every storm is different. They have to be prepared for hurricanes, tornadoes, straight line winds, flooding, and ice storms in the winter. So, they are in 12-month storm mode and constantly monitoring the weather. They work with their Planning and Resource Incident Response groups for damage prediction models that provide the approximate magnitude of the amount of material needed to respond to any given situation. The purchasing team then utilizes past storms actual material usage to determine the amount of material needs by individual item for the known storm damage. They also have pre-staged storm kits with key materials to support the immediate response and replenish those materials as needed to keep material available for the crews repairing the system.  

“We engage with our logistics partners to move the material from our suppliers and Distribution Centers to local service centers or storm material lay down areas near the restoration areas,” McCann said. “Of course, we stand down our team until it is safe to travel. We monitor road conditions and work with the law enforcement agencies to gain access to the hardest hit areas to begin the damage assessment and restoration of our customers.” 

Many employees also live in hurricane affected areas which raises the question: how does Entergy help them take care of their personal lives as well as serve the community? According to East, this is an issue the company does not take lightly. Before a storm, Entergy gives their employees time to get their families taken care of and secure their personal properties so that will not be a burden after the storm passes. Because this is such an important concern, there is a storm group designated specifically for this issue called the Business Continuity. Their main job during a storm is to ensure that the company can continue to operate and function so that they can restore power. Entergy has resources available to help employees if they are personally impacted, including immediate outreach after the storm passes to identify employees if they are affected, resources to help them take the right steps if they experienced damage, and an employee assistance grant program (funded by donations) where they can apply for financial assistance if they have a special hardship. 

“We recognize the value and responsibility we have to help get the communities we serve back on its feet. But it is not Entergy that does it alone, we are part of the greater effort,” East said. “We don’t just celebrate our success, we celebrate seeing life brought back into a community through its own people pulling together with countless number of volunteers and outside workers brought in to recover. All that being said, when you first pull into a hurricane affected area and see the damage, it is often dark and dreary, no street or porch lights burning. You know then why you are here or why you came from parts unknown. That when you leave and see the lights burning behind you, you smile and know that you have done your part to help getting the road to recovery going. And that feels good.”