Crews From 31 States in Texas to Restore Power
Line crews from 31 of the United States has offered their help to eastern Texas to help heal the largest power failure in Texas' history.
In the wake of Hurricane Ike, officials fear it could take weeks to restore power in some places, like Galveston and the towns near the Louisiana border, because major transmission lines have been knocked out, substations have been swamped and trees have fallen on neighborhood lines.
“It’s a rare event when you will see physical damage to most of the grid,” said Mayor Bill White of Houston. “Hurricane Ike, with our power company, was that kind of event.”
About two million customers remained without power across eastern Texas as of Tuesday afternoon, three days after the hurricane hit.
Hundreds of thousands of students were still out of school, mail delivery was suspended, most businesses had yet to open, hundreds of intersections lacked traffic signals and government agencies were struggling to provide services. Some hospitals, including the main hospital in Galveston, operated on generators.
Entergy, the utility that serves the area east of Houston, has restored power to about 40,000 of its 395,000 customers. CenterPoint, which serves Houston and Galveston, had made more progress, but still had 1.5 million customers in the dark.
In Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city and the center of its oil industry, signs of prolonged blackout are everywhere — in long lines at the few gasoline stations with power to run pumps, in the huge demand for ice at government food-distribution centers, in the low number of grocery stores that are open, and in the grumbling of ordinary citizens. Refineries in Texas remain closed.
Most people in Houston didn't have refigerators, air-conditioners or any kind of pump either for water or for sewage.
The arriving utility workers were treated like heroes and crowds have even gathered to watch their progress.
Some workers are saying this is worse than Hurricane Katrina.
In eastern Texas, near the Louisiana border, the hurricane knocked down more than 100 towers holding high-voltage transmission lines, damaged 272 substations and flooded the Sabine Power Station in Bridge City, driving snakes and wild animals into the plant, officials at Entergy Texas said.
The infrastructure around Houston fared better. Most high-voltage lines remained intact and the main damage was to the distribution lines in neighborhoods, officials at CenterPoint said. On Tuesday, about 24 high voltage transmission lines were still out of service, five of them running into Galveston.
Galveston has been declared on the brink of a public health disaster and residents are still being urged not to come home.
33,000 people remain housed in temporary shelters around Texas and may not get to go home for weeks.
Check out the latest happenings in Galveston and Texas from our Scan tool here.