Most power customers to be restored by early next week, but hardest-hit may take longer: CenterPoint

Nick Natario Image
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Most CenterPoint outages to be restored by 'early next week'
An official told ABC13 about the estimated restoration following Thursday's unprecedented storm. But the utility said it could take longer for the hardest-hit areas.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County customers without power fell below 550,000 on Friday evening, more than 24 hours after severe thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds barreled through southeast Texas.

As of 10 p.m. Friday, the live outage aggregation site showed 520,474 Harris County customers without electricity, a 40,000-customer reduction from three hours prior.

While CenterPoint Energy's customers are part of the total, the storms affected the utility's operations. The winds that topped 85 mph caused significant damage to the company's transmission and distribution electric system, including in Bellaire, Cypress, Baytown, Greenspoint, Humble, and Spring Branch.

In a statement late Friday, the utility said more than 78% of its customers, or 2.2 million, have power. Representatives added that mobile generation resources will enable temporary power restoration to certain areas of its service territory, including critical facilities.

In addition, CPE said 920,000 customer outages were counted at its peak, and that crews restored more than 340,000 customers' power in about 24 hours.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said it could take weeks to restore power. But later Friday, CenterPoint officials told ABC13 it'll take days, not weeks.

CPE requested approximately 4,000 line workers and 1,000 vegetation professionals to help.

The strength of the winds couldn't be overstated.

Some Houston residents told ABC News correspondent Mireya Villarreal that the winds sounded like a freight train coming through.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire drew a comparison to 2008's Hurricane Ike.

Outages span all over: from downtown Houston to Spring Branch, the east side, including Channelview and Baytown, north around the Cypress area, and west, including Katy.

According to CenterPoint Energy, the hardest-hit area was likely over the Highway 290 Corridor from Jersey Village to Waller.

"In the hardest hit areas, it is possible that customers are out through the weekend and into early next week," Alyssia Oshodi, CenterPoint Energy's director of communications, explained.

ABC13 asked which areas may have to wait longer for power.

"As specific as I can get, we know some of the hardest hit areas were up north, the Cypress area," Oshodi said.

Officials said most of the damage is expected to have been caused by straight-line winds.

Customers were encouraged to check their weatherhead, where power enters the home through an electric service drop, which is often a pipe on the side of the residence or building. If that's damaged, customers must contact a qualified electrician to make repairs before CenterPoint can restore service.

You can keep up with outages and plug in an address using CenterPoint Energy's outage tracker.

The utility said customers should always avoid downed power lines and damaged electric utility equipment.

Elsewhere, Entergy, serving areas north and east of Houston, reported 6,200 customers without power by 5:30 p.m. Friday. The utility's peak outage was at 8 p.m. Thursday when 44,500 customers had no power.

You should treat all down and damaged equipment as energized and report them to the company at 713-207-2222.

Whitmire warned that the outages also affect traffic lights. CenterPoint officials did not provide details Friday night on when the streetlights would be fixed. Power poles are down, and some are snapped in half.

The power outages are also affecting connectivity.

Comcast said it has opened all operational Xfinity WiFi hotspots in the Houston area, free of charge, to all residents.

AT&T said that some of its customers may also be experiencing wireless and wireline service interruptions due to the outages. Anyone experiencing issues can call 800-288-2020.

Verizon said its customers are having similar experiences.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, X and Instagram.