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Power Restored To Majority In Houston Following Devastating Storms

Electricity has been restored to majority of Houston residents, with federal aid on the way after the city’s devastating storms.

Residents in the Houston area affected by last week’s deadly storms received good news as officials announced that power had been restored to most of the hundreds of thousands who were left without electricity and air conditioning in sweltering heat. The devastating storms, which struck on Thursday, resulted in at least seven fatalities and brought much of Houston to a halt. The extreme weather, characterised by thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds, caused extensive damage, reducing businesses and other structures to rubble, uprooting trees, and shattering glass in downtown skyscrapers.

The storms also disrupted education, with Houston area school districts canceling classes for over 400,000 students on Friday. The Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state, announced that 215 of its 274 campuses would reopen on Monday. However, other large districts, such as Cypress-Fairbanks and Spring Branch, planned to remain closed.

In addition to the widespread damage, a tornado touched down near Cypress, a suburb northwest of Houston, compounding the destruction. By Sunday evening, CenterPoint Energy spokesperson Paul Lock confirmed that 88% of customers in the Houston area had their power restored, with full restoration expected by the end of business on Wednesday.

Despite this progress, more than 240,000 homes and businesses in Texas, primarily in the Houston area, remained without electricity as of Sunday evening. Louisiana also faced power outages, with over 1,780 customers affected by strong winds and a suspected tornado.

CenterPoint Energy deployed a formidable workforce to address the outages, with 2,000 employees and over 5,000 contractors working tirelessly in the Houston area. “We understand the higher temperatures we are experiencing across Houston and surrounding communities make getting the lights and air conditioning back on even more important,” said Lynnae Wilson, CenterPoint’s senior vice president of electric business, emphasising the urgency of their efforts.

In response to the ongoing heat and power outages, five cooling centers were opened, including one in the Cloverleaf neighborhood, where residents sought refuge from the oppressive heat. On Monday, at least 15 community centers were slated to serve as cooling centers.

Federal aid is also on the way, as Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and loans from the Small Business Administration. This support aims to assist residents affected by the recent storms and previous flooding from heavy rainfall in late April and early May in parts of Houston, Harris County, and neighboring counties.

To facilitate recovery efforts, Houston Mayor John Whitmire announced the closure of a six-block area in downtown Houston on Monday. This will allow crews to continue repairs on several high-rise buildings that had their windows blown out during the storms.

In a poignant moment on Sunday morning, residents at the Houston Heights Tower, a senior housing facility, cheered as lights and air conditioning were restored. The nearly 200 residents had been living on emergency power since Thursday evening, with generators barely sufficient to power one elevator and a few fans in the community room.

Volunteers and city workers have been pivotal in ensuring that residents received essential supplies, including water, food, and toilet paper.

As Houston continues to recover, the combined efforts of local authorities, utility workers, and federal assistance provide hope and support to those affected by the storms, underscoring the resilience and community spirit of the city’s residents.

“It just goes to show you how people come together,” resident Joseph Torregrossa said, choking back tears.

The National Weather Service said in a post on the social platform X that residents should expect “sunny, hot and increasingly humid days” in the Houston area. Highs of about 90 degrees (32 Celsius) were expected this week, with heat indexes likely approaching 102 degrees (39 Celsius) by midweek.

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