Hurricane Nicholas was, in many ways, a dodged bullet for many in Fort Bend County. Predicted flooding never materialized and, while at the peak more than 450,000 residents across the Houston region went without power, crews quickly restored electricity to many.
But even as some Fort Bend County residents returned to work and moved on from the storm on Wednesday, Rozmin Merchant, of Sugar Land, cannot soon put the storm behind her, she said.
“In the February winter storm, it wasn’t this bad for us,” she said. “We lost power for a day.”
Now, Merchant heard on Wednesday that she might be waiting another two or three days before her home in Sugar Land would have power again, she said.
As of about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, more than 8,470 Fort Bend County customers still didn’t have power, according to CenterPoint Energy’s outage tracker.
Some neighborhoods, such as Riverstone in unincorporated Sugar Land were especially hard hit, according to Sugar Land Councilmember William Ferguson.
Ferguson on Wednesday was part of a group that dropped off generators with some residents in the area, he said.
“I’ve heard it’s a parts issue,” Ferguson said of why some residents were going longer without power. “The parts are on their way for a particular transformer, and they’re looking at one more day without power.”
For residents like Rozmin, that’s especially bad news. Rozmin wasn’t feeling well before the storm and, while she has tested negative for COVID-19, she doesn’t feel comfortable staying with relatives, she said.
Rozmin’s children have also been out of school, because some campuses were still without power, but they can’t charge electronics, she said.
“The food in the fridge has gone bad already,” she said.
On Wednesday morning, Rozmin even dropped the family pet off at a boarding facility because she worried it would get too hot at home, she said.
Officials with CenterPoint Energy on Wednesday said crews were working on electric systems assessments and hoped to restore most customer outages before the end of the day.
Some isolated outages should be addressed by the end of the week, according to a news release.
“We have made excellent progress so far safely restoring service to our customers who were impacted by Hurricane Nicholas, and our crews continue to work diligently and around-the-clock to address all remaining outages as safely and quickly as possible,” said Kenny Mercado, executive vice president for CenterPoint Energy. “We appreciate our customers’ continued patience and understanding as we work to address the more challenging outage issues caused by the storm’s extensive damage to some parts of our system.”
Crews have already reduced a high of about 460,000 customers without power shortly after the storm rolled through down to about 80,000, according to a news release.
Ferguson hoped Fort Bend County residents might take Hurricane Nicholas as an opportunity to better prepare for the future, he said. There’s the usual steps, such as having a week of nonperishable food ready for a disaster, as well as considering other options, such as purchasing a temporary generator, he said.
Nicholas made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just after 1 a.m. Tuesday in Matagorda County. The storm then continued to inch along the Texas coast, largely bringing with it strong wind gusts and steady rain.
Residents in Fort Bend County awoke Tuesday morning to leaves and other foliage scattered across the roadways, and many had lost power, according to the outage tracker. Wind gusts of 51 mph were reported near Sugar Land, according to Space City Weather.
In addition to the residents who were still waiting for power to be restored Wednesday, several Fort Bend ISD campuses canceled in-person classes because they lost power. Those included Baines, First Colony, Fort Settlement and Hodges Bend middle schools and Schiff, Settlers Way and Sullivan elementary schools, according to the district.