Photo: Kim Brent/The Enterprise
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The power is out for nearly 75,000 Entergy Texas customers in Jefferson, Orange and Hardin counties this morning after a night of high winds brought on by Hurricane Laura.
The outages were not as severe as local officials had feared, however, as the historically potent Laura trained its fury on the other side of the Texas-Louisiana border. The storm took a more northerly track a few hours before landfall in Cameron, sparing Texas the worst of wind and tornadoes that created havoc throughout the night in the neighboring state.
Entergy spokesperson Allie Payne said the company has nearly 10,000 workers ready to assess the damage and work to restore power when daylight comes Thursday morning. It’s possible that a good portion of those workers could be redirected to hit-hard areas of western Louisiana.
PHOTOS: Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana, bringing power outages, destruction
Payne urged customers to stay away from down power lines and wait for workers to show up.
Vidor Police Chief Rod Carroll said most people in his Orange County community had heeded evacuation calls, and there were only six or so calls to 911 for service, mostly regarding trees felled by the wind or knocked into homes.
Carroll said officers told folks to shelter in place until daylight, when police would be by. The chief said he did not yet have anything further to report.
Orange County Judge John Gothia said response crews will be dispatched at daylight as well to help clear roadways and deal with any other damage. No calls came into the county’s emergency center.
“It was very quiet tonight, which I guess is a good thing,” Gothia said.
Jefferson County emergency officials rode out the storm at the courthouse and were digesting the reports. There was a smattering of calls to law enforcement for “minimal” service and no major disasters, said Allison Nathan Getz, the tax assessor-collector who serves as county spokeswoman. No calls came in overnight at the Emergency Operations Center in the courthouse, where one relieved worker marveled, “I don’t know what we did to deserve this.”
“It’s amazing based on what they were predicting,” Getz said. “Just incredibly thankful,” she added.
Beaumont is not quite 60 miles from Lake Charles, where early reports were far more consequential. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick acknowledged the difference those miles made for his community.
High winds arrived later than had been earlier forecast. Once they arrived, they were impressive to watch from the safety of the courthouse but far from anything obviously life-threatening. Street lights also remained visible through the falling rain.
When conditions are deemed safe, crews will begin looking for debris from fallen trees, power lines and even livestock, Emergency Management Coordinator Michael R. White said.
White said clearing that debris would be the focus of efforts once the wind dies down.
Getz said officials were not ready to let down their guard.
“We’re still monitoring the outer bands (of the storm), making sure it doesn’t rotate toward us before leaving our region,” she said.
Getz, whose office TV featured a meteorologist talking about the unpredictability of Mother Nature, checked social media accounts of people she knows for reports. Downed trees were all she found.
Branick had said on Wednesday that he hoped residents who evacuated would be allowed to return as roads are deemed passable. The would not be required to wait until power is restored at their homes, he said, acknowledging frustrations from past wind emergencies.
Branick also said talks had already begun with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration in hope of expediting assistance.
More to come in this developing story.