City Stresses Urgency to Restore Power As Friday Temperatures Rise

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A tree fell down after the hail storm at the intersection of Main Avenue.

Brendan Gibbons / Rivard Report

A tree fell down after the hail storm at the intersection Mulberry and McCullough Avenues on June 6, 2019.

Thousands of San Antonio residents remain without power and air conditioning after severe thunderstorms struck the city Thursday, with temperatures on Friday expected to soar to nearly 100 degrees.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, CPS Energy crews were still working on restoring power to approximately 18,000 customers. Thunderstorms that brought high winds, rain, hail, and lightning most severely affected areas north of downtown, according to the utility’s outage map.

Storms gave way to blue skies and sweltering temperatures on Friday, with National Weather Service forecasters predicting temperatures to rise to 99 degrees in San Antonio.

“We’re working against the clock because as you know, we’re approaching triple-digit heat probably today and tomorrow,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a Friday media briefing.

At 9:30 a.m., officials with the City, CPS Energy, and VIA Metropolitan Transit spoke about recovery efforts after the storm. They held the briefing in the Woodlawn Lake area, one of the neighborhoods most severely hit by power outages.

Fallen trees and limbs were the primary cause of loss of power, said Rudy Garza, senior vice president of distribution services and operation for CPS Energy. More than 430 downed power lines were reported across the city.

CPS Energy had 500 crew members working overnight, Garza said, adding that the utility is working with New Braunfels Utilities and the City of Austin to bring more crews to restore power.

“I can assure, anyone who is capable and available to work and is qualified to get in a bucket and restore power is out on the job this morning,” Garza said.

To help residents without air conditioning stay cool, the City is opening libraries and senior centers as cooling centers, with VIA providing free transportation to residents who need shelter from the heat, City Manager Erik Walsh said.

Walsh urged residents who need City services to call 311 to report downed lines and fallen trees. On Thursday, emergency responders logged roughly double the number of 911 calls as normal, with 27 major vehicle collisions, some of them likely the result of streetlights that lost power.

Since the storm hit, San Antonio firefighters responded to 133 calls of power lines down and three structure fires caused by lightning, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. Firefighters also made one high-water rescue that was successful, he added.

The intense storms were the result of a clash between air masses coming from the north and south, said Melissa Huffman, National Weather Service meteorologist

“We had a combination of some deeper moisture from the Gulf of Mexico in place across the region today, as well as ample heating,” Huffman said. “We had a little disturbance moving across the Southern Plains. … The combination of these factors created an environment for strong to severe thunderstorms to develop.”

19 thoughts on “City Stresses Urgency to Restore Power As Friday Temperatures Rise

  1. CPS is slow with large scale restoration. They have a poor history of it. And the public and media can never get answers because they act like a private sector company. Let’s see how many customers are still out tomorrow.

    • I disagree with you. I have seen them appear at the site that caused the failure within 10 minutes and work tirelessly in rain and the dark to fix the issues. There were issues with a transformer and power box in my neighborhood for several years that caused multiple power outages, so I witnessed it. They came in and changed the power box and we have not had any issues since.

    • Every power utility is slow with large scale restoration– they’re just not staffed for it because it’s not something that happens frequently. That’s why they all have mutual aid agreements with each other. Even then, fixing hundreds of downed power lines and poles and fried transformers just takes time.

    • I have read before that the utility tries to restore electricity as soon as possible for residents who have self-identified as having medical equipment that requires electricity.
      One of my neighbors us on home dialysis every day. Within 3 hours of when the transformer that served her house and neighbors blew, 5 CPSE trucks arrived with crews that worked for 5 hours to get the electricity on. Her husband sat up until 2 a.m. to see when the power was restored.
      The neighbor’s medical care team had her do some dialysis after the power was restored and then arranged a visit for medical treatment in the morning. She made it through the night because of the dedicated line workers.

  2. I was told by CPS Energy that my electricity would be restored by 11:00 p.m. last night on 06/06/219. It is now 3:48a.m. the morning of 6/07 and power is still out since yesterday at about 5:35 p.m.

  3. 20k still out at 5:30 a.m. Well, 19,933.
    5:30am – We’re at under 20k customers affected and 430 wires down. https://t.co/Lh7Wcqw5ZR

    They obviously don’t have the resources to deal with this type of event. This should be all hands on deck. It doesn’t seem so.

  4. 10 minute response time isn’t bad. Back in 1983 we lived in Houston and survived Hurricane Alicia. We had NO power for 10 days! Houston Lighting & Power is a private utility and its customer service makes CPS look like heaven sent.

  5. You know with home solar and battery storage this can help a household have at least base load during this outage time. A fridge, a couple of lights and some fans. Not saying households need to get it. An option for the future is better than nothing at all.

  6. It’s so weird how the outages are so splotchy. My neighborhood is still out 16 hours later but just 4 blocks over all the electricity is working fine in houses and roads/traffic lights. Wasn’t pleasant having to sleep without fans/AC. Hopefully it will be back up before the horrible Texas heat heats today.

  7. I would like to see them in front of council in public answering questions about incidents like this.

    And a pressing question should address why they don’t do preventive tree trimming anymore.

    It usually seems as though the council is intimidated by CPS. The most common response by council is backing down.

    • I agree that no longer providing preventative tree trimming near power lines is a disservice, particularly as a homeowner with major lines running through old trees across my property line, trees which I have numerous times requested CPS to cut down to prevent the lines from being snapped. However, this particular storm felled many entire trees at ground level; trimming would not have helped these instances.

  8. These aren’t instant fix events. I was without power for almost 12 hours after being quoted 5. These people are working in the dark and rain and now the heat for ALL OF US. if you can do a better and faster job by all means help yourself.

  9. This weather is unusual for San Antonio, and yesterday’s storm was quick and savage, causing immediate damage in multiple areas simultaneously. Hubby was on his way home and had to stop because visibility was less than 3 feet. At home, we got slammed by hail and I’m surprised our windows survived. Couldn’t help but wonder if we had a tornado.
    CPS responded quickly and and for a city this size, that rarely has crazy east coast type weather, they’re doing a good job. I’ve lived in dozens of places all over the nation, and CPS is by far the best utility company I’ve experienced.

  10. Talk about weird outages, get this 5 houses on E. French have no power since 545/06JUN on block–houses across the street(same block)have power. All others on our side with exception of 5 houses without power???? 5:35pm 07Jun19

  11. We have electricity, so I can’t complain. We have been w/out phone (landline), TV, cable and internet since all that runs through Spectrum. Apparently, there is a power outage to that service. It is still out. Glad our cell service isn’t through them. If we had an emergency we would be up a creek. I would just like to know when they anticipate service being complete.

  12. I know it must be difficult for CPS at this time but we are going on out 3rd day without power, are we a 3rd world country?

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