KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
February 16, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
Many Katy residents are now on day two without power and utilities during an unprecedented winter storm. Cell phone towers are also freezing leading to disrupted service. The Merrell Center is operating as a warming center but residents must call ahead and meet certain criteria.
Downtown Katy covered in snow. Photo courtesy: Chris Harris
Over a Million Without Power
Last night, CenterPoint Energy reported that 1.4 million customers were without power - an alarming fact as temperatures dropped into the low teens.
The Merrell Center is open as of yesterday, but you have to call ahead to the Katy Police Department at 281-391-4848. Residents must meet certain criteria such as sick, elderly, children, etc.
Many residents took to Katy Magazine’s Facebook page to report outages ranging from 20-30+ hours.
“The temperature inside the house keeps dropping,” writes Hany Raouf. “Homes will not be habitable in the next few hours. Why isn’t the shutdown rotating?”
Statewide Power Shortage
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declared a statewide power generation shortage emergency on Monday morning. CenterPoint Energy informed customers that they were required to comply with the directive and couldn’t address the current capacity shortage.
“Because Texas electricity consumption is far surpassing the state’s current power generation, local controlled outages will be longer than previously planned,” states CenterPoint Energy on their Facebook page.
Last night, they stressed that customers without power should be prepared to be spend the night without. This morning those homes are still in the dark.
“About 1.162 million customers are without power due to the request for reduced load, with an additional 62,500 customers due to other storm related events,” says CenterPoint Energy.
CenterPoint Asks Those with Power to Conserve
The company has asked customers with power to reduce their electricity use to the lowest level possible in order to help conserve power and limit further outages.
“As soon as generating capacity is brought back online, and ERCOT permits, we will deploy resources to restore customers,” says CenterPoint. “However, if additional generating capacity goes offline, it would negatively impact the electric system, resulting in additional customer outages.”
Power outages continue to increase this morning with the Houston-area being hit the hardest.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George is in communication with CenterPoint and reports that 1,370,000+ Texans are still without power.
“No ETA on full restoration,” says Judge George. “We will keep you posted on what we hear.”
He advises residents to:
Stay bundled up.
Cover cracks in doors/windows
Close off rooms to avoid heat loss
Eat and drink to keep body warm
You can follow Judge KP George’s updates on Facebook.
Katy Non-Profit Seeks Volunteers, Donations
Hope Impacts, a local non-profit group that services Katy's homeless, is operating a warming center out of CrossPoint Church on Westgreen.
“The Hope Impacts warming center has become more than a homeless center as emergencies with age and health in our community have come with the power outage,” says Tina Hatcher, founder and executive director of Hope Impacts.
The organization has a Sign-up Genius seeking volunteers. They are asking Katy residents to hold their material donations until they can assess the need, but monetary donations can be given through their website.
Harris County Responds to Animal Cruelty
The office of Harris County Constable Ted Heap, Precinct 5 reports that their Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce has been inundated with calls.
“Our deputies are working around the clock to respond to as many calls as we can as quickly as possible,” states their official Facebook page. “Please understand we are dealing with an immense and unprecedented volume of reports. We will investigate each and every report of animal abuse and will do our best to rescue as many animals as possible given the circumstances.”
Yesterday, along with their partners at Houston Police Department, they arrested the owner of four dogs who had dumped them outside an auto parts store.
They remind residents that it is against the law to leave animals outside in sub-freezing temperatures.
Learn more about the Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce and/or make a report at their website.
Katy ISD Schools Closed
Katy ISD initially set today as a virtual school day for all students. However, as mass power outages and weather conditions remain dangerous, the District canceled both in-person and virtual school.
All area toll roads and most bridges are closed due to ice and snow. The City of Katy urges residents to stay home and stay safe. Follow their Emergency Winter Storm page for the latest updates on road closures.
This is a developing story as Katy residents continue to suffer through this winter storm. Katy is not expected to reach temperatures above freezing until tomorrow.