AEP crews work to restore power; Valley outages keep 30,000 in dark

HARLINGEN — Linemen Tuesday continued to work to restore power to thousands of homes across the Rio Grande Valley after Hurricane Hanna’s winds tore down power lines and blew out transformers three days earlier.

AEP Texas brought in about 300 linemen from out-of-state to help restore power to about 30,000 customers across the Valley, spokesman Eladio Jaimez said.

In Harlingen, about 1,500 homes remained without power while as many as 300 customers braved outages in San Benito.

Along Garrett Road, Harlingen officials closed a section off Dixieland Road to allow crews to repair downed power lines after heavy winds knocked down several poles.

In Willacy County, about 6,000 homes remained without power.

“There are still some residents without power,” Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said. “There were several transformers that blew out in town.”

Next door in Hidalgo County, Mission stood as the hotspot, with about 6,000 customers still in the dark after Hanna knocked out power following the storm that hit Saturday afternoon.

For days, outages have led many residents to book hotel rooms to flee Hanna’s muggy wake as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

After replacing the downed pole, a crew of three Chain Electric Company workers load the downed power pole and other remnants at the corner of South Expressway 83 and Rangerville Road to be hauled away and disposed of. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

Flooding slows restoration

Across the Valley, the Category 1 hurricane knocked out power to about 152,000 customers after it made landfall just north of Port Mansfield at about 5 p.m. Saturday, Jaimez said.

In Cameron County’s low-lying areas such as Santa Rosa, widespread flooding was slowly receding.

Linemen continued to struggle to restore power in Santa Rosa and other flooded areas, Jaimez said.

“With any major storm, the difficulty would be the conditions,” he said. “Although the rains have stopped, some areas remain flooded like Santa Rosa or neighborhoods and alleys so it’s very hard to maneuver those heavy trucks in muddy conditions.”

In Harlingen, Mayor Chris Boswell said upgrades including the widening of a 13th Street drainage ditch and development of two retention ponds near the Adams Crossing subdivision helped hold back floodwaters.

“I think everyone should be pleased with that. I think the system performed well and the improvements we and Cameron County Drainage District No. 5 made all worked together,” he said. “That’s a lot of water and our streets remained clear and drained pretty fast. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Internet service returning

Power line workers were out in force on Tuesday repairing the damage and restoring power to many homes throughout the Rio Grande Valley. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

In Willacy County, Hanna’s winds battered transmission towers, knocking out internet service while weakening cell phone signals.

On Tuesday, VTX1’s technicians were restoring internet service to hundreds of customers.

“Our technicians have restored service to all but one of our wireless towers,” Denise Barrientes, the company’s customer service, help desk and marketing manager said.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com