'We're just cold': Splendora residents hoped for the best while bracing freeze amid power outages

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Thousands brace cold without power in Montgomery and Liberty counties
Montgomery and Liberty County residents are struggling to keep warm as power outages plague the area amid freezing temps across southeast Texas.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Power outages added to the struggle to keep warm in Splendora, in east Montgomery County. Thousands of people were left without heat when the electricity went off Tuesday morning.

As of late afternoon, more than 2,400 customers had no power for their A/Cs. ABC13 reached out to Entergy, the electricity provider, asking about power restoration timing and the outage cause. A company spokesperson told ABC13 the cause of the outage was a damaged transformer, and that power has since been restored.

The city of Splendora is nestled on the eastern edge of Montgomery County along Highway 59. Much of it lost power on Tuesday morning and remained shuttered in the freezing temperatures. But Archie's Food Basket was open thanks to a large diesel generator.

"It kicks right on and keeps us going," co-owner Michelle Barrilleaux said. "As long as we keep diesel in it, it'll be fine. We've got a load coming right now to make sure we don't run out."

They told ABC13 that, surprisingly, they've seen a steady stream of customers thanks to a generator - and they didn't buy it because of cold weather.

"We got it for the hurricane," Barrilleaux said. "Who would have thought we would need it for the freezing cold?"

Logan Duarte, a cashier, is likely thankful to be at work, given that his home is powerless.

"We don't have central heating and air," he said. "We just bundle up with heaters, and without the power, we're just cold."

Micah Hebman stopped by to pick up extra supplies. He has power but is hosting guests who don't.

"Got some friends over at the house right now," Hebman told ABC13. "(I'm) picking up a little extra food to feed everybody. We've got a big old pot of chili going, so we're trying to keep everybody as warm as we can."

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The swath of outages cut across the Montgomery and Liberty County lines, impacting roughly 3,500 customers. At Archie's, they were hopeful the lights would be back on sooner than later, but they're thankful for the generator nonetheless.

"Thank the Lord for that. It's been a blessing," Barrilleaux said.

Just east of the Montgomery and Liberty County line in Plum Grove, Eyewitness News met Jerry Collesano.

ABC13 took a look at a man's well, where the water was frozen. His concerns extended to the pipes inside his house in Plum Grove now that the water was not running.

"I don't know if it's a blackout for this area or a car hit a pole or what. I really don't know," he said. "My wife is in bed right now underneath an electric blanket that isn't working."

But Jerry and his wife didn't just lose power. They also lost water.

"I just realized that the water is off now because the pump for the well water isn't working," he said.

ABC13 took a look at the well with him. It's already showing signs of trouble. His concerns extended to the pipes inside his house now that the water was not running. Living on Social Security makes it all the more stressful, but he keeps a smile on his face, believing everything will work out for the best.

"It will eventually," he said. "Everything does eventually."

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SEE MORE: Some Houston-area residents experiencing power outages amid below-freezing temperatures