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Stories of Harvey

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey brought a record-breaking 51.88 inches of rainfall to Southeast Texas — followed by a long road to recovery.

At CenterPoint Energy, we witnessed ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help Houston recover — and that's why we're proud to be a part of the Houston Chronicle Heroes of Harvey series.

To our customers, we want to say thank you for your patience, your understanding and for the kindness you showed our crews. We'd also like to thank our employees for their extraordinary efforts, including restoring natural gas and electric service to over 1.27 million customers.

We're proud to be a part of this thriving community. And, in the coming weeks, we'd like to show you how we continue to support the home we all love.

Thank you for working with us to rebuild our great city. Together, we are Houston Strong.

A Look Back at a Historical Recovery

As we recall the stories of hard work, outreach and compassion from residents and our own employees, we look to the future with confidence.
Phase: Preparation Aug 19, 2018

Supporting Houston is Our Business

See how we work with local employers and organizations to help keep Houston’s economy running strong for businesses and residents alike.
Phase: Preparation 2011-2017

Helping a Neighbor in Need

As Houston started getting back on its feet after Harvey, learn how we lent a helping hand to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s devastation.
Phase: Preparation Dec. 2017-Feb. 2018

The Hidden Stories of Harvey

While Hurricane Harvey and its flood occurred nearly a year ago, the volunteer spirit and charity support it inspired continue. Learn about the positive lasting impacts of our relief efforts.
Phase: Preparation Aug 16-Sept 1

Adding High Efficiency to Dream Homes

Now that the waters have receded, how can we rebuild and remodel our homes to benefit both the homeowner and the environment? See how CenterPoint Energy works with builders to help residents keep energy efficiency in mind.
Phase: Preparation Read More

The Technology that Changed Everything

Using Smart Grid technology, we were better prepared to efficiently and effectively respond to customers' power needs post-Harvey. Take a closer look at how this technology helped us improve the outlook for thousands of Houstonians.
Phase: Preparation Aug 22-Sept 8

Protecting the City's Most Vulnerable

After years of planning and millions of dollars in investments, the Texas Medical Center walked away from Harvey with no power loss throughout the entire storm. Learn how.
Phase: Preparation Sept 2016-Sept 2017

Danger Around the Bend

Discover how our crews moved the regional staging site mid-storm as Harvey caused the Brazos and Colorado rivers to swell.
Phase: Preparation Aug 27-Sept 8

Underwater Equipment. Overwhelming Response.

When a critical substation in West Houston was under two feet of water, our crews built a temporary substation to bring power back to 5,700 residents.
Phase: Preparation Aug 27-Sept 8

No Such Thing as Too Prepared

With the 2018 hurricane season fast approaching, take a moment to review our tips and resources for keeping your power and natural gas services safe during a storm.
Phase: Preparation Read More

Gaining a New Perspective on Harvey

See how, for the very first time, CenterPoint Energy deployed new technologies on a massive scale that not only helped keep communities safer, but also helped turn the tide of dangerous floodwaters.
Phase: Preparation May 24-Sept 7

Diving in to Protect Beaumont

With floodwaters and strong currents causing the Neches River to rush with damaging debris, a severed underwater natural gas pipeline led to a series of quick decisions by our Beaumont team.
Phase: Preparation Sept 1-26

Taking Communication by Storm

As rising floodwaters overtook homes, businesses and equipment, see how our team pulled out all the stops to ensure Houstonians had the vital information they needed.
Phase: Preparation Aug 28-Sept 3

Combating Ever-Rising Water and Worry

As we get ready for our annual company-wide emergency operations drill, explore the safety measures our electric and natural gas crews took to ensure community safety during Harvey.
Phase: Preparation Aug 26-Sept 1

Rising to the 1,000-Year Occasion

As the affected areas experienced flash flooding, lightning, tornadoes and more devastation, read how our customer service team jumped into action.
Phase: Preparation Aug 24-Sept 8

5 Days. 500 Miles. Invaluable Results.

With 1,000 times more sensitivity than traditional technology, the Picarro Surveyor played a crucial role in detecting natural gas leaks following the storm. Learn how.
Phase: Preparation Aug 25-Sept 5

CenterPoint Energy Crews: Go!

After Harvey made landfall, see how we acted quickly to protect the public by securing the natural gas system.
Phase: Preparation Aug 25-28

From In the Dark to In the Know

Are you enrolled in Power Alert Service®? Find out how this free service kept our customers informed before, during and after Harvey.
Phase: Preparation Aug 22-24

A Look Back at a Historical Recovery

August 19, 2018

Appreciation for Our Communities and YOU Then and Now

Hurricane Harvey left us with countless stories of devastation and heartbreak. But with every story of sadness came another of hard work, outreach and compassion, as we witnessed the recovery efforts made by individuals and our own CenterPoint Energy teams.

After the storm, with our Emergency Operations Plan in place, our teams worked together to restore service in Greater Houston and along the Texas coast. The effort included thousands of natural gas and electric field employees, critical support roles such as logistics, human resources, communications, customer service, and community relations, as well as contractors mutual assistance personnel from seven states. We responded to 8,246 gas emergency orders and worked a total of 436,000 hours during the event, restoring power to more than 1.2 million customers.

Learn More

 

August 19, 2018

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Harvey, we take pride in what we’ve accomplished as a team and as a community. While many are still rebuilding, we look to the future with confidence in our teams, our planning and our ongoing ability to lead the nation in delivering energy, service and value.

We share our deepest gratitude to all employees and partners who helped in the recovery efforts. We’re thankful to be able to serve the communities we all love.

 

Highlights Worth Remembering

As we look back at the countless recovery efforts, we remember a few that stand out as extraordinary.

 

Sending Aid to our South Texas Neighbors

When Harvey hit the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas area, it caused catastrophic damage. CenterPoint Energy deployed natural gas crews from across Texas and nearby states to provide support.

 

Planning Ahead for Quicker Restoration

After Harvey hit Houston, many people were stuck in their homes or had to abandon their vehicles. CenterPoint Energy kept Houston customers informed of power outages through various communication channels, delivering nearly ten million messages during and after the storm.

 

Getting Boots on the Ground

Harvey continued to dump rain over Houston, causing 53,000 natural gas meters to become submerged. Over the next few days, CenterPoint Energy deployed crews to inspect 130,016 gas meters to assess any damage.

 
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Putting Employees First
As the hardships continued, CenterPoint Energy created the Employees 1st Fund to provide aid to employees who were victims of Harvey.

 
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Backing Up Beaumont

Backing Up Beaumont
Fast-moving flood waters filled with debris caused a leak in a natural gas pipeline in the Neches River in Beaumont, Texas. CenterPoint Energy worked with the City of Beaumont and sent divers to repair the breach, taking extraordinary measures to help ensure the safety of homes and businesses; 18 employees even slept at the local office to accelerate responses for customers.

 
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Image captured from a drone

Launching Our Eyes in the Sky
When the sun finally came out, it shined light on the dire situation in Houston. Damaged equipment was everywhere – much of which was impossible to access due to high water or debris. To help crews identify where they should focus their attention, CenterPoint Energy deployed a fleet of 15 drones to be its eyes in the sky.

 
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Quick Thinking in West Houston

Quick Thinking in West Houston
When the City of Houston made the difficult decision to release water from behind the reservoirs, it caused even more flooding in West Houston. When the Memorial substation got nearly eight feet of water, we decided to shut it down and build a temporary substation in the parking lot of St. John Vianney Catholic Church. Within a week, about 4,800 customers had their power restored.

 
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Always There is Who We Are

"Always There" is Who We Are
Hundreds of CenterPoint Energy employees, families and friends contributed thousands of volunteer hours, money and goodwill to our ailing communities. CenterPoint Energy ramped up efforts too, including committing $1.25 million to multiple relief organizations. In fact, CenterPoint Energy received the Corporate Philanthropy Award from the Houston Business Journal for our comprehensive community relations programs, in addition to Harvey outreach.

 
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A Mission Like No Other

Sending Help to Puerto Rico
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as one of the most devastating storms in history. While Puerto Rico isn’t home to CenterPoint Energy’s customers, we felt a strong desire to help. Nearly 140 CenterPoint Energy employees stepped up with thousands of restoration crew members from other utilities across the mainland to help restore power to the devastated island – a challenging effort that included navigating rough terrain, cutting through brush to access downed powerlines and 16-hour days.

 
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Boosting Economic Development
CenterPoint Energy helps boost our local economy and provide support to help add jobs through more than 50 leadership roles across dozens of economic development organizations. All together, these efforts are expected to yield more than 3,000 direct new jobs and $1.8 billion in total economic impact.

Supporting Houston is Our Business

2011-December 1, 2017

Supporting Economic Prosperity for YOU and Greater Houston

CenterPoint Energy has always been a force for Houston’s growth — and after Hurricane Harvey, we further strengthened our resolve to helping our city’s economic development thrive, rain or shine.

This commitment to Houston starts with consistently setting up our commercial and industrial customers for success. We lead executive roundtables to collaborate on tailored energy solutions and host seminars on power reliability, energy efficiency, distributed technologies and natural gas transportation services. CenterPoint Energy personnel also help boost Houston’s economy and provide hands-on support to help grow jobs through more than 50 leadership roles across dozens of economic development organizations. All together, these efforts are expected to yield more than 3,000 direct new jobs and $1.8 billion in total economic impact.

Learn More

 

2011

Our Economic Development team receives accreditation from the international Economic Development Council — making CenterPoint Energy one of only two U.S. utilities with this distinction.

 

September 13, 2016

CenterPoint Energy holds the first of several symposiums and power quality seminars to develop reliability solutions across multiple sectors, including healthcare, education, commercial real estate and more.

 

December 1, 2017

Following Harvey, CenterPoint Energy President and CEO Scott Prochazka seeks to help Houston achieve 100-year levels of flood protection as chair of Greater Houston Partnership’s Flood Resiliency Task Force, in addition to its Regional Economic Development Advisory Committee.

 

CenterPoint Energy is committed to be a force for growth and economic prosperity in the communities we serve. We create and retain jobs that facilitate growth, provide a stable community tax base and grow employment. How?

 

With 50+ leadership roles across local organizations, CenterPoint Energy’s Economic Development team has engaged in projects expected to generate 3,000+ direct new jobs and $1.8B in total economic impact over 18 months.

 

Our Eco Dev team sponsored multiple hurricane economic recovery workshops with our regional partners, providing tools and resources for small business and residents in impacted communities.

 

To help support growth in the region, we’re actively engaged in local and state marketing initiatives like Opportunity Houston, Texas Economic Development Corporation and Team Texas.

 

Since 2006, our Energy Insight Center (EIC), an innovative demonstration facility where we showcase our electric grid’s technology and capabilities, has enhanced student learning opportunities through science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

NOW:

Providing our customers with the energy to live and work safely and comfortably is a driving force at CenterPoint Energy. No matter what comes Houston’s way, you can count on us being here to help our neighbors and business community get back on their feet and continue to grow and prosper. For more, visit: CenterPointEnergy.com/Community.

Helping a Neighbor in Need

December 29, 2017-February 10, 2018

Ready to Respond No Matter Where You Live, Then and Now

As we dealt with the aftermath of Harvey, we kept our sights on Hurricane Irma, as it hit parts of Puerto Rico, followed by Hurricane Maria — one of the most devasting storms to date. Striking Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the storm claimed lives, destroyed homes and left nearly all of the island’s 3.3 million residents without power.

While Puerto Rico isn’t home to CenterPoint Energy’s customers, we felt a strong desire to help. By December, widespread outages across the island left Puerto Rican residents still without power. Nearly 140 CenterPoint Energy employees volunteered with thousands of restoration crew members from other utilities across the mainland to help restore power to the devastated island.

Learn More

 
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The Longest Power Outage. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

The Longest Power Outage in U.S. History
One of the most devastating storms in history left 3.3 million Puerto Rican residents without power — many areas going without it for six or more months.

 
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A Mission Like No Other

A Mission Like No Other
Restoring power to a mountainous region like Arecibo, Puerto Rico is completely different than restoring power in the coastal plains of Texas. The mission would require immunizations for Rabies, Typhoid, and Hepatitis B. Teams would be armed with tools and machetes to cut through overgrown brush to access downed powerlines. But after XX weeks of assessing the damage and solidifying a response plan, crews were prepped to depart to Puerto Rico by the year’s end.

 

December 29, 2017

Working with multiple organizations to establish a restoration plan, CenterPoint Energy trucks and equipment are driven to Lake George, Louisiana to board the Barge Maximus, which would take them to Puerto Rico by water — a two-week journey.

Barge Maximus with Trucks traveling to Puerto Rico
 

January 19, 2018

The first wave of about 70 linemen and restoration crew members fly to Puerto Rico, where they work 16-hour shifts for three weeks in the Arecibo region. The crew faces challenges getting through the terrain, often using machetes to cut their way through the jungle.

 

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A Call That We Were More Than Happy to Answer

A Call That We Were More Than Happy to Answer
Meet some of the employees who offered their time and skills to restore power to Puerto Rico. Listen to what they have to say here.

 

February 12, 2018

The first wave of crewmembers returns while a second wave of 70 employees flies out for another three-week stint of 16-hour days. By the end of the month, power was restored to most of the island, making this the longest power outage in U.S. history.

NOW:

Because of the weakened infrastructure, rough terrain and severity of damage, this restoration project was unique. A true mission of humanity, our crews worked long, physically-demanding hours to restore power to grateful households. But accomplishing missions like this is part of who we are. We have the resources to provide the service, and we believe in lending our hearts and hands to those who truly need it – no matter where you live.

The Hidden Stories of Harvey

August 16-September 1, 2017

Always Standing Behind YOU and the Community Then and Now

By August 31, Harvey had moved on. But while the area was showing signs of recovery, our communities were feeling the weight of Harvey’s emotional toll. That’s when many businesses, including CenterPoint Energy, stepped up to help lift all of our spirits and provide hands-on support.

Hundreds of CenterPoint Energy employees, families and friends volunteered thousands of hours, money and goodwill to our ailing communities. CenterPoint Energy ramped up efforts too, including donating to multiple relief organizations and creating a new relief fund for employees.

We are proud to actively engage in improving lives and addressing our community needs. It’s what we mean when we say we’re “Always There.”

Learn More

 

August 16, 2017

CenterPoint Energy receives the Corporate Philanthropy Award from the Houston Business Journal for our volunteer efforts. Read the full story about the company’s philanthropic strategy here.

 

September 1, 2017

CenterPoint Energy commits $1.25 million across several organizations’ relief efforts:

  • $250,000 to the American Red Cross
  • $250,000 to the Houston mayor’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
  • $250,000 to the United Way of Greater Houston’s disaster relief efforts
  • $300,000 to support its employees who were significantly impacted by the storm
CenterPoint Energy commits $1.25 million across several organizations' relief efforts
 

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From left to right, members of corporate auditing volunteering at Salvation Army Harvey Hub: Marco Martinez, Steve Tran, Jennifer Duarte, Catherine Fullen, Glenna Knight

Above All Else: We're Here to Serve
In addition to CenterPoint Energy’s charitable contributions, employee volunteerism is a major way we give back to the communities we serve across the United States. In 2017, our employees, retirees, families and friends contributed 162,531 hours to their communities, which the Independent Sector equates to approximately $3.5 million in labor.

 

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Brad Tutunjian, VP of Regional Operations in Minnesota, Beverley Maas, President of the MARS (Minnesota Active Retiree Services) Board, and Don Follett, MARS Board member and Volunteer of the Year.

Volunteering Made Easier (and Smarter)
In 2017, we developed the CNP Cares System – a one-stop, mobile-friendly digital platform for managing volunteer activities. Employees and retirees can easily sign up for volunteer opportunities and track their progress on personal volunteer goals. In addition, CenterPoint Energy recognizes 10 outstanding volunteers of the year.

CenterPoint Energy Cares logo
 

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CenterPoint Energy named in The Civic 50
CenterPoint Energy was listed in the Points of Light Civic 50 — a list of honorees who have set a standard for superior corporate citizenship.

The Civic 50 winners are public and private companies with U.S. operations and revenues of $1 billion or more, and are selected based on four dimensions of their U.S. community engagement program:

  • Investment: How extensively and strategically does the company apply its resources to community engagement in the United States? CenterPoint Energy’s in-kind giving was $687,098, which includes pro-bono hours, board service, and office space donations. Its cash donations totaled more than $6.5 million.
  • Integration: How does the company integrates its community engagement programs into key business functions? The top ways CenterPoint Energy integrates community engagement includes marketing/PR activities, leadership development, diversity and inclusion programs and employee engagement.
  • Institutionalization: How does the company support community engagement through organizational policies, systems and incentives? CenterPoint Energy uses a formal, structured program that collects community feedback and social media comments.
  • Impact: How does the company measure the social and business impact of its community engagement program? CenterPoint Energy utilizes both qualitative and quantitative value analysis through surveys, tracking and reporting social media engagement, and stakeholder relations.
  • View the full list of The Civic 50 honorees
 

September 1, 2017

To support our employees who were significantly impacted by Harvey, we donated $300,000 and established the CenterPoint Energy Employees 1st Fund. The company also matched employees’ contributions to the fund up to a total of $200,000.

 

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Recognizing our employees through the Give Program

A Gift That Keeps Giving
We recognize our employees’ commitment to community with a gift that makes an impact elsewhere, too. Through the Give Program, employees who volunteer 40 hours or more are eligible to receive up to $500 for a grant to a nonprofit of their choice.

NOW:

Charitable contributions and volunteerism are integral to our core values. To see our team in action reinforced CenterPoint Energy’s reputation for coming together and standing behind our communities, regardless of the circumstances. CenterPoint Energy has been named to The Civic 50 Points of Light – a list of companies that are recognized for their investment, engagement and impact in their communities – and is the recipient of three awards from the Edison Electric Institute for outstanding work during Harvey and after both the May 2017 microburst storm in Sealy and Hurricane Irma in Florida.

Adding High Efficiency to Dream Homes

Committed to Giving YOU the Tools to Keey Your Home Energy Efficient

Recovery efforts took place throughout Houston as people returned to assess the damage to their homes, businesses and lives. But with flooded roads causing commutes of over two hours and neighborhoods littered with debris as residents mucked out their homes, the road to normalcy was daunting.

To support those faced with rebuilding their homes, CenterPoint Energy donated funds and professional resources to programs like Greater Houston Builders Association's BuildAid. And with the increased demand for newly constructed homes, we rose to the challenge, working with our CenterPoint Energy High Efficiency Homes® building partners to ensure each new home exceeds energy efficiency building code — including tight exterior construction, high-performance windows, insulation and HVAC systems.

With each new home, a stronger sense of community is built.

Learn More

 

High-Performance Features

CenterPoint Energy High Efficiency Homes® offer more efficient cooling, natural gas heating and water heating, R-38 attic insulation, LED lighting, high-efficiency windows and more.

 

Measurable Cost Savings

The savings add up quickly. In fact, the energy performance achieved by our building partner J. Patrick Homes saved a yearly average of 5 to 20 percent per home in 2017, compared to other homes built to Texas code.

 

Long-Term Confidence

As a proud ENERGY STAR® partner, CenterPoint Energy is the longest-running utility to be named Partner of the Year. Our builders are also leaders in energy efficiency, ensuring that your new home will provide higher performance and savings for years to come.

 

How It Works

CenterPoint Energy High Efficiency Homes® have best-in-class energy-saving features, but you can take that efficiency to the next level with these simple tips:

 

Home Feature

High-performance windows for tighter sealing and insulation

How You Can Save More:

  • Lock your windows to remain as airtight as possible.
  • Close your curtains to help cool your home during the day.
 

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High-efficiency heating and air conditioning system

How You Can Save More:

  • Keep your HVAC system's fans, ducts and vents clean, and change filters monthly.
  • Do not block vents' air circulation with furniture or window coverings.
  • Set the thermostat to 80 F or higher while away during warmer months.
 

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