Race to restore power to 1.6 million after Hurricane Beryl as dangerous heatwave continues

Melissa Hunziker of Houston can barely handle the heat without power: “Our house is actually pretty cool right now, but we know that will change soon.”

“We have a portable fan that runs on batteries. That helped last night, but we probably won’t stay another night,” she said.

It’s not just the power shortage that’s been difficult to resolve, but also the loss of mobile connectivity, making emergency information difficult to access, Hunziker said.

Kassie Rieger and Keaton Cravens were in Houston to help those in need. “We just hope that people stay safe and do what they can to help their neighbors,” Rieger told NBC News.

CenterPoint Energy, the main utility for the Greater Houston area, said in a statement Tuesday night that it had restored power to 850,000 customers since Beryl arrived, a third of the total number of customers affected. The company said its crews had walked 4,500 miles on foot to check circuits, with help from helicopter and drone surveillance.

More than half of Harris County’s 2.1 million utility customers were without power as of Tuesday afternoon, the company’s online tracker showed. Key elements of CenterPoint’s energy system remained intact, the statement said, including transmission towers and substations.

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