HOUSTON - The wind from Nicholas packed more of a punch than was expected, knocking the power out to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. At its worst, Centerpoint counted almost half a million homes and businesses in the dark.
By daylight, emergency sirens and firetrucks screamed through intersections on Highway 6, weaving through traffic slowed by darkened signals. Businesses were forced to close. A paper sign, on and Aldi grocery declared they had no power. Inside, a manager said they were using dry-ice to keep perishable food from spoiling.
Even in neighborhoods, where there was little sign of any damage, people stood outside, trying to get a breath of fresh air, and waiting for the lights to come back on. Brandon Keil says it was just like February's Big Freeze.
"We noticed when we woke up," he says, "There was a light flashing on our 'power grid' and we knew it was the power. It was horrible."
Centerpoint says it deployed 3,200 people across the region, plus mutual aid from other areas, to work on restoring the power. The company says it expected the storm to be more of a 'rain-event', rather than the wind that would knock out power.
They expect most damage to be in transmission lines, where the electricity goes into homes and neighborhoods. A spokesman says it'll take some time to get it all turned back on.
"It will be anywhere between 5 to 7 days," says Centerpoint's Brad Tutunjian. "I do feel like this will be a multi-day event, but I'm optimistic that we'll try to get as many customers on much sooner than that."
Centerpoint insists it knows where the power is out, saying there's no need to call. However, the company does want to know if people notice downed lines.
Meantime, Entergy delivers power east of Houston and reports minimal outages. In Brazoria and Galveston counties, Texas-New Mexico Power has not reported how many customers lost power but says service will be restored by 6 p.m. on Friday.