The Texas power grid operator on Tuesday urged residents to voluntarily throttle power as record demand in the system was expected as a heatwave kept large parts of the state and southern U.S. in triple-digit temperatures.
On the last day of spring, the stifling heat in the south felt more like the middle of summer, with patience dwindling with the outages that have continued since the weekend’s stormscaused great damage.
At least 100 buildings were damaged by tornadoes over the weekend in Moss Point, Mississippi, according to the state’s disaster management agency. No deaths were reported.
In the Mississippi capital, some residents said Tuesday they were without power and air conditioning for nearly 100 hours, longer than the outages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Entergy Mississippi, the state’s largest utility, said its teams had been working 16-hour shifts since Friday, but some officials have expressed doubts about preparation.
High temperatures in the state were expected to hit 90 degrees on Tuesday.
“The delay in restoring power has caused significant difficulties for their customers and is unacceptable,” said Brent Bailey, a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the state’s energy regulator.
The proposal from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which powers most of that state’s nearly 30 million residents, was the first this year to reduce energy use. ERCOT said there was “no state of emergency” but noted the state set an unofficial June record for energy needs on Monday. The Voluntary Conservation Notice was in effect from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CT.
Storms in east Texas have left more than 40,000 people without power, according to Poweroutage.us. Winona Mayor Rachel Moreno told CBS News her city was hit “pretty hard.”
“It made me cry a lot that we’re such a small town,” she said.
About an hour away in Marshall, Texas, some residents who lost power made their way to Immanuel Baptist Church to cool off.
In Harrison County, Texas, a West Virginia line mechanic who had been working to restore power to east Texas died Monday. Judge John D. Oswalt, a Harrison County justice of the peace, told CBS News the man “apparently suffered a heat-related incident while at work.”
CBS affiliate KYTX reported that the 35-year-old mechanic received medical treatment after telling colleagues he was feeling unwell after work in the heat. He later fell asleep and when his roommate tried to wake him, he became unresponsive, KYTX reported.
Temperatures rose to an all-time high of 114 degrees on Tuesday in San Angelo, in the West Texas oil region, according to the National Weather Service.
According to CBS Texas, the heat index could reach 120 degrees in parts of the state on Wednesday.
Many Texans have been skeptical about the state’s power grid since the 1990sturned off power to millions of customers for days. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said that improvements since then have made the network more resilient, but those improvement efforts continue to come under scrutiny.
In neighboring Oklahoma, more than 100,000 customers waited eagerly for power and air conditioning to be restored after storms over the weekend downed trees and snapped hundreds of utility poles. Officials say at least one person in Oklahoma has died due to the prolonged outages, which could last into the weekend for some residents.
In the Tulsa area on Tuesday, residents without power queued for ice bags as temperatures reached the mid-90s. Motorists also waited in long lines at gas stations to fill up their generators or keep their cars running for air conditioning.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday declared a state of emergency over the weekend’s storms, citing weather-related damage and “numerous” down power lines.
In Louisiana, Mayor Tom Arceneaux said more than 51,000 electricity customers were still without power Tuesday because the storms damaged more than 800 buildings around Shreveport alone. Officials said more than a dozen major transmission lines were still awaiting repairs.