Power by Wednesday?

As of 5 PM Saturday, CenterPoint said that 447K customers were still without power, which is about half of the original total from Thursday night. The hope is that 90% of all customers will have power by Wednesday. Which, given that CenterPoint has about 1.9 million customers in Harris County, still means that almost 200K will be out of luck.

As of Saturday night, we were still in that bucket. I’m writing this before heading over to our house to check on it status and plug the fridge into a battery; we’re also providing a battery to our next door neighbors so they can charge their phones and hearing aids. I’m starting to feel a little anxious about all this.

One bit of good news for Harris County is that FEMA will provide reimbursement costs for the recovery effort.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county “should be eligible” for public disaster funds, which would help the county and likely other public agencies tap Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for costs related to road cleanup and damage to public buildings.

“This is a big deal,” Hidalgo said. “Instead of us having to foot the bill on recovery, we can get reimbursed and use those funds on mitigation for the future and keep a balanced budget.”

The county alone has calculated significant damage to public assets, as well as the cost to help people rebuild. In a release, county officials said the damage included:

• 1.2 million cubic yards of debris that will cost about $27 million to remove.
• Harris County Engineering’s Delta building has significant damage that will cost an estimated $1.2 million to fix.
• 178 traffic signals not working. The county is coordinating with TxDOT to get generators to 8 locations that are critical intersections.
• 14 county buildings without power, 3 of which are courthouses.

“These are estimates for unincorporated Harris County and do not include any damage within individual cities or (school districts),” officials said. “Cities and (school districts) will report damage in the coming days, but this gives us a sense of the cost of the damage.”

So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. But if you’re without power and trying to figure out what’s up, it’s not so easy.

As crews are deployed dealing with power line and system failures from Thursday’s pounding storm, the site dedicated to alerting Houston area people when their power will return is going through some outages of its own.

CenterPoint Energy’s outage tracker — for many the first place to check on power problems — has been experiencing “technical difficulties” throughout Saturday morning, according to the website.

Company officials eventually abandoned the map in favor of updating people on the total number of outages, steering them toward its X social media platform and its text and phone service.

The tracker was slowed by a combination of the large demand and the wide area of the map with power problems to report, said Alyssia Oshodi, director of communications for CenterPoint.

“It is tied to the amount of outages,” Oshodi said.

She said the company would work to provide information as they can, but as of Saturday the map “was not functional.”

“We will of course look to see what we can do to improve,” Oshodi said, noting CenterPoint’s focus remains on restoring power.

Looking at the outage map that I could see through their online service, I’m not optimistic about getting power restored before Wednesday. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I suppose if it’s not me it’ll be someone else. I’ve no doubt CenterPoint’s staff is working around the clock to get everything restored – one of those live updates from the Chron said they’re dealing with about 5,200 problems related to locations losing electricity, which is juts a hell of a lot. We had our power restored quickly after Ike back in 2008. If this is the cosmic scales balancing out, so be it.

UPDATE: HISD has posted a list of campuses that will be open on Monday. As of 1:24 PM, CenterPoint says 80% of customers should have power back by Sunday evening. They were down to about 350K outages by then. We were still out as of early afternoon.

UPDATE: I have power back! I got the notification from CenterPoint at 6:24 PM on Sunday, just as we were about to settle in for the night at my mother-in-law’s. We got back home as fast as we could, and all is well. Plenty of people still aren’t so lucky. I wish them all the best.

UPDATE: The number of customers without power was 236K as of Sunday at 10 PM. I do a morning walk and saw power restored for the most part in my neighborhood, but there were several blocks that were still dark.

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3 Responses to Power by Wednesday?

  1. Jeff N. says:

    Glad your house has electricity again!

  2. Ross says:

    Ours came back on about 5.30 pm Monday. Hurrah!

  3. J says:

    I had a grocery errand to do, so I decided to take a bike ride through my usual parks first to check out the storm damage. Long story short, there were some trees down, but not many, so I will say damage but not significant damage. I viewed the north side of Buffalo Bayou and the south side of Memorial Park, and it was the same theme, a few trees down and half of those were already dead. So I am pleased to report these vital green spaces proved to be resilient to a devastating storm.

    On a side note, not many people were at Memorial Park, but the ones that were there with dogs had let them off the lease, as usual, to harass the wildlife and scare the other park users who surprise them on the trail. If you are one of these people, please know that if your animal threatens me or attacks me I will sue you, I will win, and you are going to be out a great deal of money.

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