As first responders began to clear roads, Mississippi Power employees began to assess the catastrophic damage. Most Mississippi Power employees had damage to their homes. Almost 100 lost their homes entirely. But as soon as the winds subsided and with support from Southern Company Family Services, they put their own needs to the side and reported for duty. Employees had one goal in mind: get the power back on for their customers.
1,200 became 12,000 and restored power in 12 days
The call for assistance went out to other utilities and the nation responded. Mississippi Power's 1,200-person force quickly became an army of 12,000. Mississippi Power CEO Anthony Topazi set an aggressive goal and led the Storm Team to restore power in 12 days to all customers who could receive it. The date was 9/11/2005.
The Edison Electric Institute honored Mississippi Power for its rapid Hurricane Katrina restoration with its prestigious Emergency Response Award.
How we did it
Utility workers and equipment came from all over the country and Canada. Each Mississippi Power employee was empowered to make decisions on the spot using their expertise and experience to restore power as safely and quickly as possible.
The care and feeding of 12,000 workers was in itself an enormous task. It took 250,000 meals. Employees checked in and had laundries wash 93,000 pounds of clothing. People ate, washed up and slept in tent cities or wherever they could.
The operation required up to 140,000 gallons of fuel daily and coordination with government and law enforcement officials to ensure its safe delivery.
With all landlines and most cellular service destroyed, SouthernLINC Wireless radios, used by Mississippi Power employees, were the only means of communication.
Surrounded by utter destruction, safety procedures were more important than ever. Despite the adverse conditions, only three minor injuries were reported.