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Millions without power in Houston after Hurricane Beryl strikes Texas

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The restoration of power in the Houston area following Hurricane Beryl's landfall in Texas could take several days or even longer, leaving millions of residents without electricity and air conditioning in the summer heat. CenterPoint Energy, the utility provider for Houston, has come under increasing scrutiny regarding its preparedness for the storm and the speed at which it is working to restore power.

Some residents of Houston, who are no strangers to natural disasters, have questioned why one of the largest cities on the Gulf Coast seemed to struggle under the impact of Beryl, a Category 1 hurricane and was unable to better withstand its effects.

"When you don't have power, when it's pitch black at night, when it's as hot as 80 (degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, and you don't have access to food you normally have, it's a miserable situation," Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told a press conference on Wednesday in Matagorda.

Beryl had weakened to a hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph (128 kpm) by the time it reached the US before sunrise on Monday, after having already caused deadly destruction in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.

In the Houston area, the storm knocked down transmission lines, uprooted trees, and snapped branches that fell onto power lines. As of late Wednesday afternoon, approximately 1.3 million homes and businesses were still without power, according to CenterPoint Energy, which also reported having restored electricity to over 1 million customers.

CenterPoint Energy has defended its storm preparation and said that it had brought in about 12,000 additional workers from outside Houston since landfall to expedite power restoration.

Brad Tutunjian, vice president for regulatory policy for CenterPoint Energy, faced tough questions from Houston city council members about the utility's handling of the storm. He explained that pre-positioning outside crews to "ride out" the storm would not have been safe and that extensive damage to trees and power poles has hindered the ability to restore power quickly.
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