Strides made in power, hospital care, banking

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Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says Baytown is the only health facility in Harris County that is not open, and that "it will be open in one way or another Tuesday."

Emmett said he and Mayor White had written to the U.S. Federal Reserve and asked them to issue an advisory to all their institutions encouraging banks to work with borrowers and customers affected by Ike. He said the Fed agreed, and will be telling banks to "use all flexibilities to help communities facing challenges like ours, in line with safe banking practices."

What it means for customers is that many banks will work with affected communities, postponing loan payments "for up to three months so people in dire straits can make them later without penalty and without falling into arrears."

Emmett said homeowners are encouraged to contact their banks and find out if they're adopting these policies.

As for the lingering power outages nearly a week after the lights went out, Mayor Bill White said he and other officials have told CenterPoint Energy to throw all resources into getting the power back up for everyone. White said he met with CenterPoint, and that he can report that transmission lines in Harris County are back up. He called that "good news, because that was a "high, high priority."

White says substations have been made a priority and many of them are back up, but the problem now is that at many of these substations there is still work to be done to get the power from the substation to individual homes.

White says crews are working hard to make that happen, with crews on the job from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. He says each team includes 40 electrical linemen and 60 tree trimmers, but the tree damage is so bad in some areas that only the tree trimmers are working until enough has been cleared to allow electrical crews to restore power.

"We're going to hold CenterPoint accountable," White said, "But I'll tell you this: We have crews working now in our community from most of the states of the United States of America. From New York and New Jersey, down through Florida... out through Arizona, Minnesota and the Midwest and all the states in between."

The mayor said he's heard the concern from many citizens, who are asking why some parts of the region have power up, while others have no power restored. White said by tomorrow, to have no power up should be very rare but that a few, very remote substations may still not have been reached. He said the same is true of some that are in such bad shape that crews have not been able to get in.

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