Race to restore 1.6M power after Cyclone Beryl continues as dangerous heat wave continues

HOUSTON – More than 1.6 million customers in Texas were still without power Wednesday afternoon, with many losing air conditioning during a dangerous heat wave, less than 48 hours after Hurricane Beryl made landfall on the Gulf Coast.

As Beryl continued to move north, the Midwest and Northeast were hit with heavy rain, flash flooding, thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

Office of the National Weather Service Houston “With power outages across Southeast Texas, the lack of air conditioning will worsen the risk of heat-related illnesses as high temperatures warm into the low and mid-90s.”

The heat index, a measure of how hot it feels by taking humidity into account, will reach 106 on Wednesday, it said. People are urged to check on family members and pets and limit outdoor activities. Cooling centers are open throughout Houston.

Workers at Lakewood Church deliver water and operate a cooling station in Houston on Tuesday.Eric K / AB

Melissa Hunziker, of Houston, on coping with the heat without any power: “Our house is really nice, right now, but we know that will change soon.”

“We have a portable fan that’s powered by a rechargeable battery. So that helped last night, but we won’t be staying overnight yet,” he said.

It’s not just the lack of power, but also the loss of cell phone connectivity that is difficult to deal with, making it difficult to reach emergency information, Hunziger said.

Cassie Rieger and Keaton Cravens came out to help those in need in Houston. “We hope people are staying safe and doing what they can to help their neighbors,” Rieger told NBC News.

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Centerpoint Energy, a major supplier to the greater Houston area, said in a statement Tuesday night that it had restored power to 850,000 customers since Beryl hit, about a third of the total affected. The company said its employees walked 4,500 miles on foot to check circuits with the help of helicopter and drone surveillance.

More than half of Harris County’s 2.1 million energy customers were without power Tuesday afternoon, the company said. Online tracker shows. Key components of CenterPoint’s power system remain intact, including its transmission towers and substations, the report said.

Energy workers repair power lines following Hurricane Beryl on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas, about 50 miles from Houston.Washington Post via Daniel Villasana/Getty Images

“We’ve made solid progress and exceeded the number of customer restorations following Hurricane Ike, but we have a lot of important work to do, especially in difficult areas where work can be very complex and time-consuming,” said Lynne Wilson. , senior vice president of the company’s electric business unit.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire told a news conference Tuesday that traffic lights were out across the city and urged people to stay home as much as possible after dark.

“Power and energy are the highest priorities behind public safety and restoring city and county services. We’re doing everything we can to see that your power is restored,” he said.

Houston Police Chief Larry J. Satterwhite said at the same news conference that authorities received more than 100 calls of suspected carbon monoxide leaks and dealing with broken gas and electric lines. He warned that while some trees and power poles are not yet in a state of collapsing, they will fall in the coming days.

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The Houston area is baking in dangerous heat with more than 2 million homes and businesses without power.Mark Felix/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Now a post-tropical cyclone, Beryl continues to move north through the Midwest, prompting flood watches and warnings for parts of the Northeast, including Illinois, northern Indiana and southern Michigan, and central and northern New York, Vermont. New Hampshire and Maine.

Beryl’s maximum sustained winds have dropped to 30 miles per hour, but it will still bring at least 2 to 4 inches of rain and a tornado is possible in New York on Wednesday.

About 2 million people are at risk of severe thunderstorms Wednesday across northern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

At least 10 people have died in the United States since Beryl made landfall on Monday, many of them from trees falling on their homes amid widespread flooding and disruption.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at a news conference Wednesday that most of the deaths in Texas occurred in the Houston and Harris County area, including some from drowning and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The city of Houston reported a shortage of ambulances, Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said at a news conference. The agency dispatched 25 additional ambulances to assist with 911 calls and sent additional paramedics to hospital emergency rooms overnight.

The Houston Airport System said Wednesday it was dealing with runway repairs and limited staffing in the wake of the crash — amid a busy summer travel season.

Hurricane Beryl downed a large tree in Houston. Reginald Mathalon/NurPhoto via AP

“Our hearts go out to all Texans affected by Hurricane Beryl, and our fellow Texans tragically lost their lives or were injured,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “We will continue to be in touch with the electricity providers on the need for speedy power restoration,” he added.

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President Joe Biden has issued a federal major disaster declaration that will reimburse up to 75% of the costs of debris removal and other emergency operations.

Social media footage from Houston shows homes Trees fell and perished.

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