Work to restore power continues across Houston as dangerous heat returns in wake of deadly derecho

At least 8 deaths across the Houston metro have been attributed to the severe weather. One of the victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning as people turn to generators to keep their air conditioners running.

HOUSTON – Some Houston residents who lost power during Thursday’s blistering severe wind event are now facing the daunting possibility of being without power and air conditioning for days or even weeks as temperatures heat back up.


The severe weather raked the Houston area with estimated gusts of 90-100 mph. Eight deaths have been tied to the windstorm event in Harris County, according to officials. 

During the peak of the storms, more than 1 million electrical customers were without power in Texas – some 900,000 of them in Harris County, home to much of the Houston metro area.

CenterPoint Energy said it had restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers by Friday. More than 200,000 customers remained in the dark around Houston as of Monday, including 10% of Harris County, according to

Current power outages in the Houston metro area.
(FOX Weather)


For some, it could be weeks before power is restored as 10 energy transmission lines are down, according to Harris County Executive Judge Lina Hidalgo.

"If you are tied into the transmission lines that fell … just like in (Hurricane) Ike, you are going to have to go a couple of weeks, most likely, without power," Hidalgo said. 

To help speed up restoration efforts, CenterPoint Energy said it deployed 700 damage assessors to survey more than 490 distribution circuits containing 7,147 overhead circuit miles.

The company said it also flew a helicopter over the storm's path to inspect more than 110 miles of aerial transmission lines.

"More than 2,000 employees and over 5,000 contractors, including additional lineworkers and vegetation management professionals participating through mutual assistance, are actively working throughout the territory," the company said in a statement Saturday night. "The company is also using six temporary mobile generation units to serve two cooling centers, two first responder locations, a hospital and a senior living facility."

This graphic shows the forecast feels-like temperature on Monday, May 20, 2024.
(FOX Weather)


Heat turns deadly in Houston as outages continue

Another danger is the increasing heat as tens to hundreds of thousands lose access to air conditioning.

As the heat rises, people are turning to generators to try and cool their homes. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said his crews have responded to multiple calls for carbon monoxide poisoning, and officials confirmed at least one death due to carbon monoxide poisoning over the weekend. 


"If you are going to use a generator, use it outside; use it at least 20 feet from the structure," Peña said. "Don’t run it outside the garage, even if the doors are open. That needs to be outside because it doesn’t take long for carbon monoxide to accumulate in the home."

The carbon monoxide-related death marks the eighth related to the derecho event in Harris County. 

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said hundreds of seniors living in an assisted living center were discovered after the storm. The mayor said the center’s management had left them living without food, water or air conditioning for days.

"I have even thought about, is this criminal neglect involved?" Whitmire said. "But we are not going to go that route, we’re trying to save lives first."

With the lingering clouds and storms, Friday's high temperatures stayed in the mid-70s. However, over the weekend, highs climbed back into the lower 90s around Houston. With typical humid Gulf air in place, heat index readings are expected to reach the mid- to upper 90s on Monday before climbing to nearly 100 degrees during the upcoming workweek.

This graphic shows the heat risk for the South on Tuesday.
(FOX Weather)


Spring Branch schools were closed for a third day on Monday due to the power outage. 

Hidalgo said 15 Harris County libraries will be open during the days for air conditioning and power.

"The next few days are going to be hard. The next few weeks are going to be hard for some folks in our community," Hidalgo said. "They're going to be uncomfortable, but we've been through this."