Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma Emergency Power Restoration — Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi

August-December 2005

In 2005, Riggs Distler was hired to help restore power to areas affected by the devastating Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. It’s estimated that nearly 3 million homes were left without power in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina, and there was severe and widespread damage to roads, homes, and other infrastructure.

Our goal was to use our expertise and resources to restore power to our clients’ customers as safely and quickly as possible. Throughout the project, our crews dealt with extensive flooding and a lack of local resources. The National Hurricane Center reports that Katrina was the costliest hurricane on record, ultimately causing over $125 million worth of damage. Services provided by Riggs Distler for this important project included:

  • Storm preparation and the delivery of 250 units of heavy equipment
  • Readying and deploying 300 full-time employees
  • Maintaining a strong safety presence
  • Circuit, substation, and distribution line repair
  • Hazard clearing
  • Pole stripping
  • Repairing and raising downed transmission lines

Riggs Distler worked in concert with other utilities and lineworkers to restore power, and communication between parties was essential to ensuring safety and swift execution.

Challenges Overcome

Our Emergency Response teams were assembled from Riggs Distler’s utility units and dispatched on August 25, just before Hurricane Katrina reached peak intensity and made landfall along the Louisiana coast. After Katrina dissipated, our crews remained in the area to help deal with the effects of Hurricanes Rita and Wilma, which followed soon after. The areas where our teams worked were extensively damaged by the storm, resulting in very rugged working conditions. There were no lights, no phone service, and no places to stay, as most residents were evacuated.

 

Riggs Distler’s crews lived in tents or trucks for months, showered in tractor trailers, ate MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), and worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire life of the project. We dealt with these harsh conditions by relying on our resourcefulness, skill at strategic planning, and a fundamental commitment to safety. Our field teams kept in constant communication with safety personnel, management, and our partners to ensure proper guidance at all times. As a result, our workers had the support they needed to deal with situations as they arose, allowing us to respond swiftly and decisively to changing conditions and priorities in the field.  Ultimately, our crews remained in the area working until December 23.

Results Delivered

Riggs Distler’s emergency storm response work re-connected tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents with critical power services when they needed it most. Our crews were highly committed and knew they were performing important work. Our ability to carefully plan, prepare, and mobilize on short notice made Riggs Distler one of the few firms capable of providing effective restoration work in the difficult conditions created by the aftermath of these powerful storms. We’re proud of the work we performed to help restore power to the citizens of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.