Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Race to restore power to 1.3M after Hurricane Beryl as dangerous heat wave continues

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Melissa Hunziker, of Houston, is just about coping in the heat with no power: “Our house is actually pretty cool right now, but we know that will change quickly ahead.”

“We’ve got a portable fan that is chargeable-battery-operated. So that helped last night, but we won’t probably stay another night,” she said.

It’s not just the power shortage but also the loss of cellphone connectivity that is hard to deal with, making emergency information hard to get, Hunziker said.

Kassie Rieger and Keaton Cravens were out in Houston to offer help to those in need. “We just hope people are staying safe and doing what they can to help their neighbors,” Rieger told NBC News.

CenterPoint Energy, the main supplier for the greater Houston area, said in a statement Wednesday that it had restored power to more than 1 million of the 2.26 million customers affected since Beryl arrived.

“We’re holding CenterPoint accountable,” Mayor John Whitmire said at a news conference Wednesday. “CenterPoint’s going to have to do a better job.”

The city has opened ice and water distribution centers and cooling centers. Whitmire said that with traffic lights out across the city, drivers should stay home after dark if possible.

It could be days before power is restored to some areas, CenterPoint said.

More than 980,000 of Harris County’s 2.1 million customers were without power at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the company’s online tracker showed. The main elements of CenterPoint’s energy system remain intact, the company said, including its transmission towers and substations. 

Around 1.3 million customers, including those not serviced by CenterPoint, were without power Wednesday night, according to outage tracker poweroutage.us.

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