Severe weather across east Texas and north Louisiana approximately a half million residents without power over the past week.
The storms devastated Ark-La-Tex communities and rolled in when celebrations were already underway for Juneteenth, Father’s Day, the Great Texas Balloon Race, and various conventions or sporting events in northwest Louisiana prompting a need for quickly lodging utility professionals coming to town to help. Without a place to stay, Louisiana Tech opened its dorms to host hundreds of SWEPCO and utility professionals as they worked to bring energy back to North Louisiana.
These professionals include linemen and tree crews that SWEPCO needed to find lodging after hotels in the area were filled or without power. SWEPCO Director of Customer Services and Marketing Paul Pratt contacted Dr. Donna Johnson, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer of Louisiana Tech’s Innovative Enterprise, to ask if dorm space was available.
“We are grateful for the quick response and warm hospitality that Louisiana Tech, along with five other campuses and facilities, were able to provide for hundreds of line workers and support personnel working long hours to get the lights back for our customers,” Pratt said. “We are doing everything we can to ensure a rapid response while keeping our workers safe. Having a safe and comfortable place for our linemen to rest from a 16-hour shift is deeply appreciated.”
Johnson contacted Casey Ingram, Louisiana Tech Director of Residential Life and Summer Camps, who reached out to her team to provide these workers with dorm rooms for the duration of their work. Bill Davis, Louisiana Tech Police Department’s Assistance Police Chief, supported accommodating a secure location where dozens of bucket trucks and vehicles could be parked.
Finding ways to support partners and the community is a core function of the Innovation Enterprise at Louisiana Tech,” Johnson said. “The Tech campus was heavily impacted by a tornado in 2019 and is all too familiar with disaster recovery, so when SWEPCO called with the need for lodging, the campus quickly responded.”
Louisiana Tech and SWEPCO have a long-standing relationship aimed at finding opportunities to support regional talent development and energy resiliency. Hosting the utility professionals on campus is another small way Tech and SWEPCO work together to support the north Louisiana region as partners.