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Houston Weather: Power outages due to a storm increase the risk of hot weather

HOUSTON (AP) — As the Houston region works to clean up and Restore power to thousands Following deadly storms that killed at least seven people, a smog warning will occur Saturday as all of South Texas begins to feel the heat.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said three people died in the storm, including an 85-year-old woman whose home caught fire after a lightning strike and a 60-year-old man who tried to drive his vehicle to the To use the drive of his oxygen cylinder.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire earlier said at least four people were killed in the city as the storms swept through Harris County, which includes Houston.

The National Weather Service issued flood watches and warnings for parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

LACK OF POWER INCREASE THE POSSIBILITY OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES

The National Weather Service in Houston warned that with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees (32.2 C) this weekend, people should be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion. “Don’t overwhelm yourself when cleaning,” said one post on the social platform X.

A woman looks at the damage caused by falling bricks from a building wall after a severe thunderstorm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The mild weather is a concern in a region where more than half a million homes and businesses remained without power as of Saturday morning – nearly a million, according to PowerOutage.us.

Fierce storms with winds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h) blew out windows downtown Thursday, while a tornado touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress.

IN SOME AREAS THE POWER MAY BE OUT FOR WEEKS

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Friday that it could take weeks for power to be restored in some areas.

Since several transmission towers were down, Hidalgo urged patience. Another 21,000 customers were without power in Louisiana, where there were strong winds and a suspected tornado, while the peak was 215,000.

Tree service crews climb onto an SUV to dismantle a tree that fell on it at an apartment complex in the 4600 block of Sherwood after a severe storm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston.  (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Tree service crews climb onto an SUV to dismantle a tree that fell on it at an apartment complex in the 4600 block of Sherwood after a severe storm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Fans arrive at Minute Maid Park as a severe thunderstorm hits before a baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Houston.  (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Fans arrive at Minute Maid Park as a severe thunderstorm hits before a baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Houston. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The Houston Health Department announced it will distribute 400 free portable air conditioners to area seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers of disabled children.

Widespread destruction brings Houston to a standstill

The widespread destruction brought large parts of Houston to a standstill. Trees, debris and shattered glass lay on the streets. The brick wall of a building was demolished.

Workers clean up broken glass at a damaged downtown restaurant after a severe thunderstorm Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Houston.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Workers clean up broken glass at a damaged downtown restaurant after a severe thunderstorm Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston-area school districts canceled classes for more than 400,000 students and closed government offices on Friday. City officials urged people to avoid downtown and stay off streets, many of which were flooded or lined with downed power lines and broken traffic lights.

Mayor Whitmire warned that police were on duty, including state troopers who were sent to the area to prevent looting. He said the speed and intensity of the storm caught many by surprise.

“Most Houstonians didn’t have time to get themselves out of harm’s way,” Whitmire said at a news conference.

Noelle Delgado stopped by Houston Pets Alive, the animal rescue organization where she is executive director, on Thursday evening and found that the dogs and cats – more than 30 in all – were unharmed, but the awning was torn off, the sign was torn and there was water leaky inside. She hoped to find foster homes for the animals.

“I could definitely tell this storm was a little different,” she said. “It felt terrifying.”

Yesenia Guzmán worried about whether she would get paid if the power was still out at the restaurant where she works in the Houston suburb of Katy.

“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” she said.

Disaster declaration paves way for aid

Whitmire signed a disaster declaration, paving the way for state and federal assistance in storm response. President Joe Biden also issued a disaster declaration for seven Texas counties, including Harris, about severe stormsstraight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding since April 26. His campaign provides federal resources to people affected by the storms.

A man walks through fallen bricks of a damaged building after a severe thunderstorm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

A man walks through fallen bricks of a damaged building after a severe thunderstorm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Emergency responders in neighboring Montgomery County called the damage to transmission lines “catastrophic.”

Torn apart high-voltage pylons and downed power lines pose a double challenge for the utility because the damage affected transmission and distribution systems, said Alexandria von Meier, a power and energy expert, calling it a rarity. Damage to the distribution system is more typical, said von Meier.

How quickly repairs are made depends on a variety of factors, including the time it takes to assess the damage, replace equipment, access issues to roadworks, and labor availability. Centerpoint Energy sent 1,000 employees Friday and called for 5,000 more line workers and vegetation specialists.

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Associated Press reporter Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Jamie Stengle in Dallas; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed to this report.

Anna Harden

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