POWER OUTAGE -- Storm, possible twister follows outage
MORGAN CITY, La. — A power outage struck the Morgan City area at about 10:40 a.m. and lasted until about 12:20 p.m. after a fault in an Entergy power line caused the feed to Cleco’s Bayou Ramos substation to go out, according to a Cleco spokesperson.
Soon after power was restored in Morgan City, a heavy storm, possibly including tornadoes, struck the area.
In addition to the power outage, storm damage, possibly caused by tornadoes, struck the area. Damage was reported at Lake End Park and Parkway.
A tornado was reported in the Palm Street area in Morgan City and trash was scattered in the area, Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
A woman from Amelia said her home in Amelia was hit by a tornado around 12:30 p.m., causing a tree to fall in her back bedroom and making a hole in her roof. She and her son were home and unharmed, she said.
Around 1:30 p.m., Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch said officers responded to a report of people trapped inside a house after a tree fell on it on Railroad Avenue. There was no information on their condition.
The power outage affected an area from Morgan City to Amelia, said Cleco spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper.
About 1 p.m., strong winds knocked a power line down near Rite Aid in Morgan City, causing a power outage in the Victor II Boulevard area, Grizzaffi said. Crews were working to repair the line, he said.
Cleco workers were still investigating why the fault in the Entergy line impacted the Bayou Ramos substation, Cooper said.
Morgan City is back running on the city’s transformer at the Joseph J. Cefalu Sr. Municipal Steam Plant, which is tied into the electricity grid as of around noon, Morgan City utilities director Bill Cefalu said.
Also at noon, Cefalu was trying to get natural gas to bring power back to the unit 4 generator, one of two at the city’s steam plant.
Cefalu said there was a natural gas leak in the Louisiana Interstate Gas line under the Intracoastal Waterway. The line supplies gas to run generators at the steam plant. The leak cut service to the plant.
But the gas outage became a moot point after Cleco restored power.
St. Mary Parish Superintendent Donald Aguillard said schools were “hunkering down” because of the weather.
As of 1:40 p.m., Morgan City Junior High had no damage, but also had no power. Morgan City High School experienced a lightning strike which set off the fire alarm but caused no damage. M.E. Norman’s employees saw the funnel cloud go over the school, but the school had no damage. Wyandotte Elementary had a shattered window from the winds. J.B. Maitland experienced no damage, Aguillard said.
After the outage, local restaurants saw customers leave and took a hit on their sales.
“It is aggravating. It costs both the business and the servers money,” Tampico manager Micheal Izaguirre said. “This happens quite frequently. It is one of those things we have gotten used to. It always seems to happen at lunch time.”
“It put us out of commission for about 45 minutes,” Shoneys manager Ginger Roy said. “It affected us drastically. We had customers that would not stay.”
Police scanner activity indicated a possible tornado touchdown in Lake End Park around 1 p.m. in a second round of thunderstorms after power was restored. Two recreational vehicles were reported overturned in the park. A trailer was reported overturned on La. 70.
A tree was reported as having fallen on a house on Railroad Avenue with the occupants originally thought trapped inside but everyone got out safely.
Reports of fallen trees and live wires peppered the police scanner. Fallen electrical lines and an electrical fire were reported on Railroad Avenue. Other power lines were reported down on Barrow Street as well as lines near the Sonic and Rite Aid businesses.
Nearly a year ago, a state of emergency was declared in Morgan City after the Joseph J. Cefalu Steam Plant transformer exploded and caught fire June 26. The city experienced numerous extended power outages as it ran on two power generators for several months while the transformer was replaced and power from Cleco to the city was restored.
The power plant and generators frequently went off line as the system was overloaded with peak summer loads.
Additional reporting by staff reporters Jean L. Kaess and Preston Gill contributed to this report.