HOUSTON – September 12, 2008 – As Hurricane Ike continues on its path to the Texas Gulf Coast, CenterPoint Energy continues to prepare for storm restoration to the greater Houston area. Customers need to be prepared to be without power for at least two weeks and possibly longer depending on the severity of the damage.
In addition to the company’s own field personnel, the company has thousands of linemen and tree trimmers from around the country ready to assess damage, clear trees and begin power restoration once the storm passes.
In the first few days after a hurricane or major storm, CenterPoint Energy will assess the damage and work around the clock until everyone’s power is restored. The company’s first priority in restoring service is to key facilities vital to safety, health and welfare, such as hospitals, water treatment plants and public service facilities. Then, it repairs those major lines and circuits that will restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time.
CenterPoint Energy has technology in place today that indicates which power lines are out, so in the first few days after a storm, customers are asked to limit calls to the company to only true emergencies – such as reporting downed power lines.
Pre-storm safety tips
- Unplug sensitive electrical appliances, such as your computer
- Turn off circuit breakers
- Do not turn off your natural gas at the meter. The gas meter should be left on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within the house and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur.
- If you wish to discontinue gas service, turn the gas off at each appliance. Later, to restore gas service to an appliance, it is only necessary to follow the written instructions located on the appliance for relighting. If you are unable to locate instructions, call a qualified plumber.
Post-storm safety tips
- If you experienced flooding and water has risen above the electrical outlets in your home, contact a licensed electrician before turning on the main circuit breaker or trying to restore power.
- If your electrical appliances and electronic equipment have been submerged in water, all the appliances and equipment need to dry thoroughly for at least one week. Then, have them checked by a qualified repair person before turning them on. Attempting to repair a flood-damaged appliance could result in electrical shock or death. Attempting to restart it could result in further damage and costly repairs.
- If the outside unit of an air conditioning system has been under water, mud and water may have accumulated in the controls. Have the unit checked by a qualified air conditioning technician.
- Check your weatherhead - In many post-storm restoration cases, the problem is with customer-owned electrical equipment, such as the weatherhead that connects the overhead power line or service drop owned by CenterPoint Energy to your home or business. Such problems will need to be repaired by an electrician before customers can receive service from CenterPoint Energy.
- If you have evacuated and want to know if your home has power – please do not call CenterPoint Energy in the first few days following the storm as we are busy handling emergencies. Instead you can:
- Call your answering machine to see if it picks up
- Call your neighbors
- Monitor the news media
- Check CenterPoint Energy’s Web site at www.CenterPointEnergy.com
- If your home was flooded, call a licensed plumber or a gas appliance technician to inspect your appliances and gas piping to make sure it is in good operating condition before calling CenterPoint Energy to reconnect service. This also includes outdoor gas appliances, such as pool heaters, gas grills, and gas lights.
- If you haven’t had flooding in your home and your natural gas is turned off at the meter, call CenterPoint Energy to reconnect service.
- Be alert for leaking gas as you return to your home or businesses to assess damage. If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and tell others to leave too.
- Do not turn the lights on or off, smoke, strike a match, use a cell phone or operate anything that might cause a spark, including a flashlight or a generator.
- Do not attempt to turn natural gas valves on or off. Once safely away from the area, call CenterPoint Energy.
- Call the Texas One Call Hotline 1-800-545-6005 to locate underground natural gas lines and other underground lines before digging on property or conducting debris clean-up.
- If you want to use a portable generator, do not connect it directly to a building's wiring without a licensed electrician first disconnecting the house wiring from CenterPoint Energy's service. It can create a safety hazard for you and CenterPoint Energy's linemen.
- Never run the generator indoors or in a garage - place it in a well ventilated area. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP), headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, and interstate pipelines and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total approximately $18 billion. With about 8,600 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 130 years. For more information, visit the Web site at www.centerpointenergy.com.