The Largest Power Outage in Houston History Is Still Ongoing After Hurricane Beryl’s Devastating Storm Leave Millions Distraught

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jul 10, 2024

Millions of Houston, Texas residents remain without power after Hurricane Beryl brought strong winds and heavy rain to much of the region earlier this week.

Now, Houston is facing the largest power outage in state history — and millions of people have voiced their frustration over the lack of preparation the city’s utility companies and systems seemed to have in place.

Losing Power in Houston

When Beryl’s storms first made landfall on Monday, it quickly struck the heart of Houston. This resulted in many trees toppling onto power lines. Officials have said that more than 10 transmission towers were completely knocked down.

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An aerial view of downtown Houston with many tall buildings seen.

Source: Vlad Busuioc/Unsplash

About 2.7 million customers in Texas quickly lost power on Monday. Most of them were located in or around Houston.

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Millions of Residents Are Still Without Power

By Wednesday, many residents were still without power. Though CenterPoint Energy, the utility company in the region, promised that at least one million customers would have power by the end of Wednesday, this has yet to be seen.

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Workers repairing power lines in the daytime.

Source: American Public Power Association/Unsplash

Now, the fourth biggest city in the United States still seems to have millions of people suffering from lack of power in their homes.

Houston’s Heat

To make matters unbearably worse, Houston’s heat has caused many locals to seek out cooling centers throughout the city, as it’s too hot to stay in their own homes without power or air conditioning.

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Houston sun seen through bridge and over water.

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On Wednesday, Houston’s temperature had a high of 93 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity. An excessive heat warning was also issued by officials.

Was Houston Prepared?

Many residents have voiced their frustration over how unprepared CenterPoint Energy seemed to be — even though they had many days to prepare for Hurricane Beryl’s impact.

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A car driving past buildings in rain in Houston.

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Plus, Beryl had lost much of its strength by the time it hit Texas land, as it was only a Category 1. Previously, Beryl had escalated to a Category 5 hurricane when it was still in the Atlantic.

Strengthening the Grid

Some experts have already claimed that nothing was done to accurately prepare the city for this storm. Wei Due, a PA Consulting energy expert, opened up about how a Category 1 hurricane shouldn’t have resulted in this many power outages.

An aerial view of Hurricane Beryl seen from the ISS in space.

Source: NASA/Matthew Dominick/Wikimedia Commons

Due said, “For a Category 1 hurricane to result in over a million customer outages in its immediate aftermath demonstrates that there is plenty of need for the resiliency hardening investments.”

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Damaged Power Lines

So far, damaged power lines are to blame for why millions of people in the Houston area are still without power.

A look up at power lines and transmission towers.

Source: Pok Rie/Pexels

Officials have stated that there are an incredible amount of damaged lines, even more than what was seen from Hurricane Ike’s destruction in 2008.

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CenterPoint Excuses?

CenterPoint Energy officials revealed on Tuesday that they were very surprised by Beryl’s behavior, especially as it was supposed to hit further south, rather than spiraling toward Houston.

An aerial view of downtown Houston, Texas.

Source: Mickey Dziwulski/Unsplash

However, Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who is acting in place of Governor Greg Abbott while he is overseas, has blasted this excuse. “No one should have been surprised,” Patrick said.

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A Slow Response Time

Many Houston residents have blasted how long it has taken for utility companies to restore power — especially as many are suffering in this excessive heat.

A worker repairing a power line in the daytime.

Source: American Public Power Association/Unsplash

A 79-year-old local, Patricia Alexander, had to leave her senior living center, as it still had no power. She went to a cooling center in Houston to escape the heat. “The response has been too slow. The mayor said he was looking out for senior centers and that CenterPoint’s teams were prioritizing senior facilities, but I don’t believe it, because we don’t have air-conditioning.”

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Patrick Looks at CenterPoint Energy for Answers

Patrick has said that CenterPoint must focus on restoring power for Texas citizens right now. However, once this is all said and done, he wants to question the company, as they seem to have not been prepared at all.

The silhouette of a worker near power lines.

Source: American Public Power Association/Unsplash

“If they made mistakes beforehand, then that will be addressed,” Patrick explained. “The real question is: Were they as prepared as they should be? And that’s up to them to answer, and they will answer not only to the public but to the P.U.C.”

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A Struggling Texas Power Grid

For the last few years, many in Texas — both residents and officials — have openly worried about the Texas power grid.

A car seen submerged in a major flooding situation on Houston roads.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

However, many of these worries have been about the cold months that Texas has experienced, especially after many throughout the state lost power during extremely cold winter days in 2021.

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Losing Power in the Summer

Many other experts have explained that officials also need to be worried about the grid and its stability during the summer, which will increasingly see more extremely hot days that the power grid may not be able to withstand.

A close-up look at power lines in a hazy orange sky.

Source: Noah Boyer/Unsplash

The threat of an active hurricane season has also concerned many, as this Category 1 hurricane has already seemed to decimate power lines in the state. If more ferocious hurricanes hit Texas later this year, residents and experts are worried about the grid not holding up at all.

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