Scott Ball / Rivard Report
After 48 hours with no power, Irene Chavez would just like to know when she can expect the lights to turn on again.
The single mother is diabetic and caring for a 10-year-old son with Autism and an 11-year-old daughter. She lives in the 78201 ZIP code, one of the areas of San Antonio hard-hit by a Thursday night thunderstorm that left thousands without electricity.
Chavez said she and her children “toughed it out” at home Thursday night but had to spend Friday night at a friend’s house. They’ve relied on public libraries to access electricity and air conditioning. Her daughter, Maya, came to work with Chavez because of a lack of power to her school. She also lost all the insulin and groceries that slowly warmed in her refrigerator.
“It’s been horrible,” she said, adding that she, her neighbors, and her boyfriend all have been contacting CPS Energy, asking when to expect their service to return. “Nobody gets any straight answers.”
Chavez is among the roughly 1,000 CPS Energy customers still without power the second day after a severe thunderstorm tore through central San Antonio. City and CPS Energy crews are continuing to work to untangle the snarls of downed power lines and fallen trees and limbs left in the storm’s wake.
In a Saturday news release, utility officials said the outages that remain are the most difficult to restore.
“At this point, we are working on repairing individual services one at a time, and each situation is unique and poses different challenges,” the release states. “Our work continues, and we won’t rest until it is done. No customer will be left behind.”
Nearly 230,000 customers experienced some loss of power after the storm hit around 6 p.m. Thursday, bringing high winds, lightning strikes, and quarter-sized hail. Relying on weather data from subscription service DTN, utility officials said lightning struck the city 3,400 times during the storm.
On Saturday, CPS Energy updated its total number of downed line reports since the storm hit from 430 to 634, said Melissa Sorola, the utility’s communications director. Only 40 of those still needed work as of 11 a.m. Saturday.
Since the storm, City crews with the Transportation and Capital Improvements and Solid Waste Management departments have been traversing areas hit by the storm, clearing away downed trees and limbs. Downed trees were the primary cause of outages, CPS Energy officials said Friday.
North-central San Antonio had the largest number of persistent outages, with most of those still without power Saturday concentrated in the 78201, 78228, and 78207 ZIP codes.
Some residents in the affected areas remained without air conditioning as temperatures climbed to a high of 97 degrees on Friday. Forecasters are predicting Saturday’s high temperature to reach 100 degrees.
In response, the City announced that libraries, senior centers, and community centers would be functioning as cooling centers and would remain open until Sunday. VIA Metropolitan Transit is offering free transportation to those traveling to the centers.
The City and the local chapter of the American Red Cross also opened an overnight cooling center at the Alamo Convocation Center at 110 Tuleta Drive. No one stayed there overnight, City Chief Communications Officer Laura Mayes said, but it remains open for anyone who needs it.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, TCI officials had counted 247 downed trees and had cut and stacked 190 of them, according to communications officer Paul Berry. The storm had also disabled 172 traffic signals, though TCI was able to restore all but four of them by 11 a.m. Saturday.
City crews have cut and stacked 357 fallen trees that will be picked up over the weekend, with Solid Waste officials anticipating debris and brush pickup to continue until June 21, according to a City news release issued at noon Saturday.
Workers have transported 3,100 cubic yards of material – nearly enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool – have been transported to the brush center to be turned into mulch.
The City’s Bitters Brush Recycling Center at 1800 Wurzbach Pkwy and Nelson Gardens Brush Recycling Center at 8963 Nelson Rd. will be open for San Antonio residents to dispose of storm-related tree debris for free. Residents located in the storm-affected areas can also call 311 to request special garbage collection for spoiled food.