CenterPoint Energy crews from the Brazosport Service Center have made “significant progress,” restoring nearly 44,000 customers since the storm began, spokeswoman Olivia Koch said in a statement.
Locally, residents saw significant damage left in the wake of Hurricane Nicholas including multiple poles down in streets and easements, downed trees, downed wires and damaged service drops.
Poweroutage.us reported 857 CenterPoint and 506 Texas-New Mexico Power customers remained without power as of Saturday evening.
“There have been many challenges to restoration in this area including traffic, accessibility, wildlife, high water, swampy conditions and vegetation debris,” Koch said in the statement. “Successes included restoring key facilities like St. Luke’s Brazosport Hospital, Freeport EMS and fire and Freeport waste/water treatment plants. To help address the local needs, we provided and installed a 5-megawatt generator at the Lake Jackson Civic Center.”
Texas-New Mexico Power spokesman Eric Paul estimates the remaining customers will have power no later than 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“We have crews from across the state and outside contractors who have been working in the area amid difficult and hazardous conditions,” Paul said in a statement. “We understand that it’s been a long week for everyone and that being without power is extremely frustrating for customers.”
It’s not, however, what one would expect based on the forecast just prior to landfall of then-Tropical Storm Nicholas, which had indicated more rain and potential flooding than wind. However, Nicholas subverted everyone’s expectations Monday night.
Smaller outages in backyards and other hard-to-access locations have made swift repairs challenging. Instead of the typical trucks with buckets and other equipment on booms, “backyard machines,” for the heavy lifting were brought in and linemen needed to climb poles instead of using buckets, Paul said in a statement.
Angleton is down to roughly 400 people lacking electricity as of Saturday, Mayor Jason Perez said.
“We are seeing a heavy concentration on the south end of town,” Perez said. “We’re seeing huge presence of tree trimmers and lines, those kinds of folks, so that’s a good sign.”
The city is looking to have 100 percent power restoration by Monday or Tuesday, Perez said.
In Freeport, City Hall’s power was restored Saturday as crews continued to work throughout the city, Mayor Brooks Bass said.
With power restored, officials are planning to move ahead with the 6 p.m. council meeting Monday.
West of the Brazos, Sweeny city officials also have a planned meeting Monday, with debris removal contractors to plan the removal process and timeline, City Manager Reece Cook said.
Residents must place their debris curbside and cannot block roadways, he said.
Vegetation debris such as tree branches and limbs must be put in one pile while construction materials such as lumber and drywall should go in another, Cook said.
Separate piles must also be made for household garbage, hazardous waste, large appliances and electronics, Cook said.
West Columbia Mayor Laurie Kincannon did not have any updates Saturday.
Lake Jackson’s number of residents left in the dark is also dwindling, down to 835 homes, City Manager Modesto Mundo said.
“In the city, and it sounds like they are going to make significant progress even through the rest of the day,” he said. “They are hoping it will get lowered to only 100 homes by (Saturday) evening.”
One hundred percent restoration is the hope for Sunday, Mundo said.
Until then, the comfort center at the Civic Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., though it may close early if 100 percent power is restored, he said.
CenterPoint noted Hurricane Nicholas may have caused damage to meter boxes or weather heads, the point where the electrical line enters the home through a pipe, according to a news release.
“In those cases, customers will need to contact a qualified electrician to make sure the damage is repaired before the company is able to restore service to them,” the release states.
If CenterPoint tells the homeowner it needs to be inspected, residents can call the Lake Jackson Police Department dispatch at 979-415-2700, Mundo said.
“We’ll get someone from our building inspection office out there to inspect it,” he said.
Clute, unfortunately, has suffered a bit of a setback in the electricity restoration process, City Manager CJ Snipes said.
“We were down in double digits with the connections lost this morning but now we’re back up,” Snipes said Saturday. “I think that means we lost a couple of more transformers that they are having to put in.”
CenterPoint has not given the city a firm ETA regarding repairs, Snipes said.
“They felt confident that the majority of folks would be reconnected sometime this weekend,” Snipes said. “Obviously, five days without power is a long time and we know folks are tired and we know they’re hot and we know they are uncomfortable. We are doing everything we can to expedite and making sure we’re advocating to get everyone turned back on.”
Initial damages for Clute totaled about $300,000, Snipes said. The city will have engineers in town early next week to take a look at the traffic signals.
Ellis Park and the splash pad in Richwood reopened Saturday afternoon, City Manager Eric Foerster said.
“We’re getting power to the city; we’re super happy about that,” Foerster said. “We look for the vast majority of the city to be up with power today. If not today it should happen by tomorrow. We got major debris removal going on right now at all of the city properties and most of the residential areas.”
Richwood’s cooling station inside City Hall has closed, according to a Facebook post.
As power is being restored, the city’s lift stations are coming back online, the post stated.
“It may take several hours to pump out the lines,” it stated. “Water conservation is still advised to avoid backups.”
CenterPoint’s natural gas supply remains reliable and stable, the release states.
“If customers smell the ‘rotten egg’ odor of natural gas, they should immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and CenterPoint Energy,” the release states. “In addition, before cleaning debris, digging on their property or to locate underground natural gas lines and other underground utility lines, customers should call 811, the nationwide Call Before You Dig number.”