Winnfield Recognized for Sending Electrical Crew After Hurricane Ian

The Louisiana Energy and Power Authority (LEPA) Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution at its Nov. 17 meeting, commending the City of Winnfield line workers who traveled to Florida to assist the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) in restoring electric service after Hurricane Ian.

The City sent a 4-member crew, two bucket trucks and a pick-up truck to assist FMEA after Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on September 28, 2022. The Winnfield lineworkers traveled and worked for two weeks with lineworkers from Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) to help restore electric service in the communities of Gainesville and Lakeland, Florida.

FMEA requested mutual aid assistance from LEPA just prior to the hurricane’s arrival. Winfield had received valuable assistance from mutual aid line workers from other states, including Florida after it suffered significant damage from Hurricane Laura in 2021.

“This was Winnfield’s first out-of-state mutual aid callout. We are forever grateful,” said Amy Zubaly, Executive Director of FMEA, who said the hurricane had caused horrific destruction. She noted that the coordination from LEPA, along with the response from Winnfield and LUS, helped get power restored quickly.

“Here in Louisiana, we know, all too well, the devastation that hurricanes cause, and how difficult it can be to get electrical power restored in these communities,” said Kevin Bihm, LEPA General Manager. “Mutual aid is essential to getting vital power restored as quickly as possible after hurricanes, and in this case, the Board of Directors recognized that Winnfield played an important role in that effort.”

LEPA is a joint-action agency made up of 19-member municipalities, each owning their own municipal electrical systems. It is based in Lafayette. LEPA Members include Abbeville, Alexandria, Erath, Gueydan, Houma, Jonesville, Kaplan, Lafayette, Minden, Morgan City, Natchitoches, New Roads, Plaquemine, Rayne, St. Martinville, Vidalia, Vinton, Welsh and Winnfield.

Above: Shown at the LEPA Board of Directors meeting after receiving their commendation are the Winnfield linemen who provided mutual aid in Florida. They are, from left, lineman Joseph Conroy, groundman Josh Colyer Jr., LEPA Chairman and Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft, Jonathan Paul, Lafayette Electric Operations Manager; Greg Labbe’, and apprentice Grady Williford.

Mayor Gerald Hamms was also recognized for approving this mutual aid effort.