Texas weather: Austin Energy utility team helping restore power in Houston

Austin Energy crews were up early Monday morning working to restore power in Houston after recent severe weather.

It's a tough job with a lot of challenges, according to team supervisor Landry Bertsch.

"Traffic's bad. The weather is hot. It's humid. There are mosquitoes. We're running into a lot of property line work. A lot of damaging wind came through here and tore up the system pretty bad," said Bertsch.

The Austin Energy crews are currently assigned to the Katy area. The focus is on repairing what's described as the backbone of the local power grid, which is supplied by CenterPoint Energy.

"The customers are eager to get their lights on. They've been out of power now for a few days, and they're getting, they're getting kind of antsy," said Bertsch.


The storm hit the Houston area Thursday with 100 mph winds.

"It blew through here, something scary, very scary. Like in my adult life, it's about as scared as I've been," said Houston resident Jose Flores.

Flores took a break from clearing the damage at his house to thank the utility crew working down the street.

"I'm grateful for all the help. I know that sometimes, you see, you know, disasters like this and other municipalities come in. Oh, no. Greatly appreciate you. Love you guys. Thank you," said Flores.

It is a slow and methodical process, according to Paul Vasquez, director of Electric System Field Ops with Austin Energy. Twenty-one line workers rolled out of Austin early Saturday as part of a mutual aid deployment. By that afternoon, they were already restoring power.

"The first day, that partial day, they were able to restore 700 customers. The second day there were 1,500 customers. And then, I spoke with the employee in charge over there, and he told me that they're starting to get on some of the bigger project work," said Vasquez.

The Austin Energy team is assigned to work only during daylight hours.

"So CenterPoint has their staff working 24 hours around the clock. They're more familiar with it. So at night, they know where to go, what to patrol. And then what they find is our crews will come in the morning, and they'll work during the daylight hours, and they'll work from sunup to sundown," said Vasquez.

The team is prepared to be in Houston for the remainder of the week.

"The mood with Austin Energy guys is incredible. Everybody's eager. Everybody wants to help. Everybody's excited. They're glad they're here," said Bertsch.