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Some Indiana utility crews return home, others stay behind as Hurricane Ida restoration efforts continue

In addition to storm-related hazards, crews are having to keep an eye out for alligators, snakes and wild boars while on job sites.

INDIANAPOLIS — Hurricane Ida damaged more power poles than hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Delta and Zeta combined. For weeks, Indiana utility crews have been part of a massive effort to fix those poles and assess damage in Louisiana. 

More than 300 Indiana Michigan Power employees are still in Louisiana and despite Ida having made landfall on Aug. 26, the crews are continuing to face challenging conditions including flooded streets, road closures, widespread damage and debris. 

In addition to storm-related hazards, crews are having to keep an eye out for alligators, snakes and wild boars while on job sites. 

The I&M line workers, forestry experts, safety personnel and fleet experts are stationed in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, which is about 22 miles south of New Orleans. 

Credit: AP
People paddle a boat up a street flooded from Hurricane Ida, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Jean Lafitte, La. Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Ida are scrambling for food, gas, water and relief from the oppressive heat. (AP Photo/John Locher)

I&M said its crews are in "good spirits and are dedicated to restoring a sense of normalcy to those impacted from Ida."

I&M will continue to work alongside Entergy on restoration efforts until its crews are released.

In Indiana, there's a chance for storms Tuesday night across I&M's service area. The company said although many of its crews are tied up in Louisiana, customers shouldn't worry. 

"Even with crews assisting in Ida restoration efforts, we are ready and prepared to respond to outages here at home," I&M said in a news release.

American Electric Power (AEP), I&M’s parent company, has a staff of meteorologists monitoring conditions and communicating with employees.

I&M noted its employees have a long history of working to restore communities in the wake of natural disasters. In fact, the company has mutual assistance agreements with utilities across the nation and is always available to help weather permitting.

AES Indiana sent 17 crew members to New Orleans to help with recovery efforts on Monday, Aug. 30. They were among 27,000 workers from at least 40 states working to assess damage and bring back utilities.

That crew is now headed home. The crew stayed in Memphis Monday night and will be back in Indianapolis sometime Tuesday.