JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – As Americans approach the halfway point of this year’s hurricane season, Entergy Mississippi officials said their teams are ready to face the rest of what mother nature has to offer.
The utility provider performs storm preparations year-round. It ranges from inspections and vegetation management to training and industry collaboration. For president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi, Haley Fisackerly, the confidence his company has relates to its prior experience handling natural disasters.
“Over 100 years, we’ve weathered a lot of events, a lot of history, and all of that has gone to make us a better company,” Fisackerly said.
One such storm that shaped how the company operates was Hurricane Katrina.
At the time, Fisackerly served as vice president of customer operations at Entergy Mississippi. The company had about 410,000 customers statewide, stretching from the Tennessee to the Louisiana border. Fisackerly told WJTV 12 News that Katrina caused 75% of their customers to lose power. When it came through Jackson as a category one hurricane, 97% of people lost power.
The utility provider’s original estimates said it would take several weeks to get power back on statewide. Fisackerly said the effort took 12 days after Katrina hit Mississippi. He appreciated the diligence of his workforce in making that happen.
“Always thankful for those front line crews that are out there working in the elements in this heat and in these bad conditions,” Fisackerly said. “Not only are they working in dangerous jobs, but in the back of their minds, they’re worried about their families.”
Recent trends in weather patterns are also on Fisackerly’s mind. In early August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted more hurricanes in the Atlantic than previously expected this year. Earlier this summer, a series of storms throughout Mississippi gave Fisackerly an eerie reminder of Katrina almost 18 years ago.
“We’re seeing thunderstorms that have the capability, like we saw this past June, to create 80 mile per hour winds. You know, that is a category one hurricane wind for us,” Fisackerly said.
The CEO told WJTV 12 News that these patterns of increased storm strength stem from climate change. Fisackerly said that more powerful storms as a result of climate change present challenges for Entergy Mississippi. However, he believes these challenges will enable Entergy to be a better company.
“One of our challenges that we saw with the June storms that hit was the systems that we use to communicate to our customers around what to expect and estimated restoration times fell. We’re repairing that system, so it’ll be ready to serve us,” Fisackerly said.