Plaquemine struggles to get energy moving again

Allen Ennis watched hurricanes Camille, Georges and Ivan do their worst to the towns and businesses along the southernmost stretches of the Mississippi River, but none of them prepared him for Katrina.

At the Chevron oil terminal in Empire where he works, the storm tore the roof off one massive storage tank, scoured the foundations out from under several others and tossed dozens of trucks and bulldozers into the river.

Ennis' home just the other side of the river from the terminal didn't fare much better, with a wall missing and all the windows blown out.

"It took three helicopter flights over the area before I could find my house," he said.

Despite their personal losses, Ennis and hundreds of other local residents working in the energy industry have spent much of their time since the storm trying to restart devastated plants and terminals here.

The Chevron terminal, which moved one-quarter of all Gulf of Mexico oil, didn't see crude flowing through its pipes for more than a month and won't see regular power restored for weeks. And as many as nine natural gas processing plants in the region remain off line, with key facilities in Yscloskey and Venice run by Houston's Targa Resources not expected to be fully operating until March.

This fragile region of receding marshes and eroding patches of land is starting to recover as crews clear roads, restore power and restart drinking water plants. But the job of rebuilding the energy infrastructure has been slow.

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There is much more.
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