Angry customer confronts CenterPoint

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September 26, 2008 6:02:14 PM PDT
More than 400,000 people are going into their third weekend without power since Hurricane Ike. Some CenterPoint customers have reached the boiling point, especially when they say they haven't seen any power crews whatsoever in their neighborhoods. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

With so many people complaining about no power...

"I was praising them when they drove in here," said Joan Kindle, a resident without power. "Are you kidding? We've been without lights for so long, no one has done anything."

CenterPoint Energy wanted its customers to see firsthand the challenge crews face as they work to restore it.

"This is what we call major devastation to our electrical facilities," explained Bob Roy with CenterPoint Energy.

Company officials invited us out to Crosby for a show and tell, but just as the spokesman began his pitch, there was an interruption.

Resident Karen Hoffman said, "They tried to tell me last night you were out here and I want it known you weren't here."

Hoffman is an irate CenterPoint customer going on 14 days without power.

"You are breaking my bank with my generator and I'm not even running it 24-7," she said. "I've got a 77-year-old mother at home. I'm trying to take care of everybody and trying to go to work every day. And we just need to know that we are being taken care of."

"The cavalry is here," promised CenterPoint Energy spokesman Floyd LeBlanc. "We brought them all the way from Georgia and they are going to stay in this area until we get all the major wires back on top of that pole and energized."

The downed trees have to be removed from the lines for that to happen, so the tree removal crews have to stay ahead of the actual line crews. CenterPoint now admits the process is not as seamless as it sounds.

"There are some situations where we are waiting for a transformer to be delivered," explained LeBlanc. "So, we're moving as fast as we can."

An estimated 400,000 CenterPoint customers remain without power. While the company insists the majority of them will have power by Sunday, Karen Hoffman needs more convincing.

"I don't know that I fully believe everything they told me, but at least if I see them working, it makes us feel better," she said.

CenterPoint officials tell Eyewitness News that after Sunday night approximately 100,000 of its customers may still be in the dark. They hope to bring everyone back on line by the middle of next week. Company officials also maintain they told customers from the very beginning that they told customers it would take anywhere from two to three weeks to restore power.

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