All employees of Centerpoint Energy take part in a yearly hurricane preparedness exercise. After a hurricane, it's all hands on deck — including those with desk jobs — to walk power lines and help assess damage. Centerpoint's Alicia Dixon says there's a systematic plan to restore power.
"The first priority is restoring power to key facilities vital to health and safety — such as, water treatment plants, sewage facilities, hospitals, emergency responders — so that that infrastructure can get back to normal. Then we focus on making repairs that are going to bring on service to the largest number of customers."
Following Hurricane Ike, it was downed trees that caused the most delays. The company has linemen and tree trimmers from around the country on stand-by to help its own field personnel.
"And as part of that mutual assistance network of companies that came to help us following Ike — we had 11,000 resources from all over the country and Canada — in addition to linemen, we had tree trimmers. Just as we go help them, they came and helped us, following Hurricane Ike."
It works both ways. Centerpoint employees helped restore power after tornadoes struck in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Dixon says there are lessons learned after events like Hurricane Ike, such as the need for more staging sites.
"We needed to get those resources more spread out throughout the city because traffic lights weren't working, so we established more staging sites throughout the city. People have to be housed somewhere, they have to eat, they have to have their laundry done — it's a big logistical endeavor."
Centerpoint has a chart on its website with estimated times for power restoration based on storm severity. For more information, visit Centerpoint's Storm Center Webpage.