What we know about the damaged power transmission structures in the Houston area

"This storm hit with great intensity ... and damage that we could see up to three weeks before everything is repaired," KHOU 11 Energy expert Ed Hirs said.

What we know about the damaged power transmission structures in the Houston area

HOUSTON — Thousands of Houstonians have marked themselves safe on Facebook after the feature was activated due to last night's severe storms. Across social media platforms, many people are chatting about the widespread power outages in Harris County.

In a severe weather briefing, officials in Harris County are asked people to stay off the roads hours after the storm, mostly due to debris and traffic signal outages.

According to Houston Mayor John Whitmire, The signal outages are due to a lack of power in the area.

On X, KHOU 11 reporter Stephen Goin captured some of the first images of a collapsed transmission structure in Cypress.

STORM DAMAGE: Power lines down in Cypress after severe storms came through the area Thursday afternoon. Residents in a nearby subdivision tell me their power is out after they saw sparks flying from these transmission towers during the storm. @KHOU pic.twitter.com/YohahSESmx

— Stephen Goin (@stephengoin) May 17, 2024

The KHOU 11 Verify team reached out to CenterPoint, the largest power provider in the area, to ask about the collapsed structure.

THE QUESTION

How long will it take to repair the damaged transmission structures?

THE SOURCES

- The White House
- U.S. Department of Energy
- CenterPoint Energy
- Ed Hirs, KHOU Energy Expert
- Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge
- John Whitmire, Houston Mayor

THE ANSWER

It will take weeks to repair damaged power transmission structures.

WHAT WE FOUND

KHOU 11 Energy Expert Ed Hirs told the KHOU 11 Verify Team that in the aftermath of a major hurricane, it takes about three weeks for power to return to the Houston area.

In the aftermath of the severe storm Thursday night, Hirs said, "This storm hit with great intensity, such tremendous force and damage that we could see up to three weeks before everything is repaired."

KHOU 11 reporter Jason Miles spoke with a representative from CenterPoint at their staging area near Greenspoint, where CenterPoint confirms the toppling of the towers was due to the high winds.

Twisted heap of transmission tower off 290 ⤵️. @CenterPoint tells me these will be most tricky to fix. Meanwhile, 4000 additional line-workers are requested to help 2000 employees already at work. 650K+ customers without power as of this afternoon. Team coverage on @KHOU #khou11 https://t.co/urTJH8K19g pic.twitter.com/tShhcWs9d6

— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) May 17, 2024

The power company is in the process of continuing to restore service to customers, but CenterPoint does not have an exact figure on how many customers get their power from the transmission lines.

In a briefing Friday morning, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said 10 transmission lines were taken down across the area.

Hirs said that because those lines are designed to carry a heavier load, there could be tens of thousands of customers impacted by the toppled towers.

Hirs told the KHOU 11 Verify Team, "We also know that some of these transmission towers have had cellphone structures attached to them, those repeating antennas increase a little windage. It's going to take the engineers some time to figure out exactly why they collapsed.

[video_shortcode_youtube src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0cT4wcr7fiM?rel=0" itemprop="image" content="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0cT4wcr7fiM?rel=0" data-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0cT4wcr7fiM?rel=0"]

SPOTTY CELL SERVICE

The KHOU 11 Verify Team reached out to cellphone providers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile about the spotty service people were experiencing.

In a statement provided to the KHOU 11 Verify Team, Verizon said, "Due to last night’s severe storms and subsequent power outages, some customers in the Greater Houston area may be experiencing service interruptions. Verizon is utilizing all available resources to fully restore service."

T-Mobile directed KHOU 11 to a statement posted on its website alerting customers when conditions are safe to do so, they will bring in "SatCOLTs (Satellite Cell on Light Trucks) and SatCOWs (Satellite Cell on Wheels) to restore coverage in areas where repairs could take longer due to the storm’s severity."

AT&T said it will waive data overage fees starting Friday through May 26, in the following ZIP codes that can be found by clicking here.

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