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Hurricane Katrina response leader to assist Ergon disaster planning

Published: 22 Sep 2015 10:23am

An executive who led the restoration of power in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina will be the keynote speaker at disaster innovation forums in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns this week.

Ergon Energy will host Entergy Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Rod West, who will reflect on the lessons learned during and since Hurricane Katrina struck and flooded 80 per cent of New Orleans a decade ago.

Mr West, as director of electric distribution operations for Entergy New Orleans (ENO) with responsibility for the city’s electric infrastructure, initially ensured the safety of his workforce, many of whom lost homes to the storm, before he and his team went to work overseeing a $US250 million reconstruction of the nearly destroyed New Orleans electrical infrastructure.

In the 10 years since the hurricane hit, the company has spent more than $US1 billion in upgrades to existing plants and substations.

Ergon Energy Chief Executive Ian McLeod said Ergon was not resting on its laurels after the acclaimed response to Cyclone Marcia in the Rockhampton region earlier this year.

“Although we have learned from major power restorations following Cyclones Yasi, Oswald and Marcia in the past five years, we are still keen to tap into the knowledge of other organisations which have experience in responding to natural disasters,” Mr McLeod said.

“And few disasters have been more challenging than Hurricane Katrina, so we look forward to incorporating relevant lessons from there into our own disaster planning as the summer storm and cyclone season approaches.”

As well as Mr West, the day-long Brisbane forum today will hear about AusNet Service’s response to the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and updates from Western Power, Energex, Ergon and the Queensland Police Service.

The Townsville and Cairns lunch-time forums tomorrow and Thursday respectively will feature Mr West addressing representatives from Ergon and other disaster management organisations.

The program will conclude with a one-day disaster simulation workshop in Townsville next month.

Media Contact: Rod Rehbein
Phone: 4153 9813 or 0407 031 072

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