By Malcolm Butler
A strong thunderstorm with straight line winds caused thousands of homes to be without power Sunday afternoon as downed trees, limbs and even the Hampton Inn sign proved how strong the storm was.
Ruston mayor Ronny Walker said via phone that the majority of homes on the City of Ruston power grid lost electricity although most of those had been restored by around 6 p.m.
“When the storm came through – and it was a storm that we think was straight line winds – it took about 80 percent of our customers down,” said Walker. “We have most of it back up. We are still working on some critical areas. As of now, we have all but about 5 to 10 percent restored.”
He said that the phone lines at the operations center were down so calls from residents were not being received.
“If people are trying to call, they probably aren’t getting through,” said Walker. “But we are aware of where all the outages are.”
Walker said roughly 10,000 homes are on the City of Ruston power grid, which means 500 to 1,000 were still without power at the time of the call.
For the second time in about a month, a severe storm brought heavy rain and straight line winds that uprooted trees, downed limbs, and even snapped the Hampton Inn welcome sign in half. A similar storm in mid-June caused similar damage to Lincoln Parish.
Walker said additional crews from Echo – subcontractor with City – were enroute to Ruston and should arrive by 8 p.m. He said he hoped that all power would be restored by midnight, but that he couldn’t make promises.
“We should have most of it up before midnight tonight, but there is just a whole whole lot of big-time outages,” said Walker. “We had a lot of transmission lines down. That’s what I have been out doing for the last half hour … just riding the transmission lines to see where we have trees and limbs down.
“Lots of trees on houses in the city. Just lots of damage. That’s the one bad part about living with all of these big pine trees.”
Walker did said many of the customers on Entergy and Claiborne Electric are also without power, although he didn’t know the numbers.
“Hwy 167 north is a mess right now because there is a tree down that took both City of Ruston and Entergy lines down,” said Walker.