Nicholas Exits Stage Right, But Plenty of Residents Remain Powerless

Lots of fallen branches littered the streets of greater Houston Tuesday thanks to Nicholas.
Lots of fallen branches littered the streets of greater Houston Tuesday thanks to Nicholas. Photo by Reggie Mathalone
Tropical Storm Nicholas continued its eastward path out of the Houston area throughout Tuesday, leaving most of inland Harris County relatively dry but still struggling with widespread power outages and scattered debris.

While the more southeastern reaches of Harris County saw significant rain totals and a healthy storm surge early Tuesday morning, it was the stronger than expected winds from Nicholas that left hundreds of thousands of county residents without electricity well into the afternoon.

After hitting a high of more than 450,000 power outages in the greater Houston area Tuesday morning, CenterPoint Energy reported it had restored power to over 200,000 customers since 8 a.m., leaving approximately 270,000 still powerless just after 1 p.m. By 4:01 p.m. the number of Houston area residents still lacking electricity had fallen to 182,822.

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CenterPoint's outage map showed the utility provider had made big strides in restoring power since Tuesday morning.

To assist locals without power who need to charge their cell phones and other devices to stay in touch with relatives and friends, the city of Houston opened up eight separate pop-up charging stations across the city, which will stay open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. While the charging centers are all equipped with restrooms and air conditioning, the city insisted they were not overnight or long-term shelters.

The city-run charging stations are located at the following local community centers:
  • Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 9314 Cullen Blvd.
  • Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 W. Montgomery Rd.
  • Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star Dr.
  • West End Multi-Service Center, 170 Heights Blvd.
  • Freed Community Center, 6818 Shadyvilla Ln.
  • Edgewood Community Center, 5803 Bellfort Ave.
  • Marian Park Community Center, 11101 S. Gessner Rd.
  • Tuffly Community Center, 3200 Russell St.
The city of Houston’s Office of Emergency Management also announced that it expects all city services to resume normal operations on Wednesday. Earlier Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that includes Houston Health Department coronavirus testing and vaccination centers, which had been shut down Tuesday due to Nicholas

Harris County Public Health announced Tuesday that its own COVID-19 vaccination and test sites will reopen on Wednesday. But that wasn’t the only good news provided by the county health department; Harris County Public Health also shared the news Tuesday that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had approved a two-week extension of the county’s $100 gift card incentive for residents to get a coronavirus vaccination.

Originally scheduled to end on August 31, the program was first extended by Commissioners Court until September 14, and will now be in place through the end of September. Any Harris County resident who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine somewhere in Harris County between now and September 30 can fill out a brief online form on the county’s website to figure out whether they are eligible to get a virtual $100 gift card valid everywhere credit cards are accepted.

Local schools that closed Tuesday in advance of Nicholas were still in the process of determining if and when they would open up again as of late Tuesday afternoon. Houston ISD announced around 4:15 p.m. that all schools, district buildings and campuses would be open as usual on Wednesday. Fort Bend ISD had not decided on official reopening plans as of 3:42 p.m. Tuesday; FBISD cited power outages at local campuses and across the region as part of why they’d yet to formally announce plans for Wednesday.

In an update posted earlier Tuesday, Rice University’s Crisis Management Team wrote that a full campus reopening on Wednesday was likely. “At this point, we expect pretty much everything on campus, including classroom instruction, to return to normal operations tomorrow. But in the meantime, please stay safe as the remnants of this storm pass through the Houston area,” the announcement read. Houston Community College announced all of its campuses would be open for normal operations on Wednesday, while the University of Houston said an official decision would be made by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

In a bit of hopeful news, Space City Weather’s Eric Berger wrote that he’s seen “fairly strong hints in the models for a decently strong fall front moving into the region in nine or ten days time.”

“That’s a long way out to forecast, so grain of salt and all that, but it is the right time of year for a front,” he continued. “So maybe, hopefully, fall is but 10 days away. I’m ready.”

He’s certainly not alone there.
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Schaefer Edwards is a staff writer at the Houston Press who covers local and regional news. A lifelong Texan and adopted Houstonian, he loves NBA basketball and devouring Tex-Mex while his cat watches in envy.
Contact: Schaefer Edwards