Tropical Storm Nicholas Update

Final Update: Monday, Sept. 20

Our crews continue to work final calls related to Tropical Storm-turned-Hurricane Nicholas. We appreciate everyone’s patience through a challenging week. This is the final update of this thread.

If your power still is out, or if it goes out related related to storm damage or for any other reason, please call us to report the outage at 888-866-7456. Because of the storm, please do this even if you called before.

You may see our TNMP or contract crews still working and completing additional work, even after customers in the area have been restored. We ask that you steer clear of their work areas for multiple safety reasons, but thumbs-up and waves always are appreciated.

 

Nicholas damage

Update: Sunday, Sept. 19, 7:45 a.m.

Crews still have work to do today, particularly in western and central Brazoria County. We have reached a point in Nicholas restoration, though, where we’re getting down to a much smaller number of customers out.

We want to make sure we don’t miss anyone, though. So, we’re asking that any customers whose power still is out to call us, even if you called before, to ensure we know about the outage affecting you. 

  • The number to call is 888-866-7456.
  • If the automated system recognizes your phone number and confirms the correct address, that should work to confirm that we know or to report a new outage.
  • If the automated system doesn’t recognize your number and asks for a ZIP code, you’ll need to speak to an agent. Please go through the ZIP code steps, but then hold the line and select to report an outage via an agent.

If your power is on, we ask that you call or text friends, family or neighbors who may be out to let them know to call us.

Update: Saturday, Sept. 18, 5:35 p.m.

Our crews continue to make significant progress with repairs and restoration from Nicholas.

A couple topics that hopefully we can explain here:

Much of the restoration work involves significant cutting of trees on customers’ property. While we realize it creates a mess and a chore, our tree trimming crews must leave the trimmed branches on customer property when working post-storm restoration.

Another topic touching on customers’ property relates to repair responsibilities. Many customers with downed trees or other debris issues may have damage to the customer-owned equipment to which we connect at their homes or businesses.

We can't restore power safely until customers have completed repairs (often involving hiring an electrician). We will make repairs on the TNMP equipment that serves those homes and businesses, though, so that power can be fully restored once the customers have completed repairs of their equipment.

Please click and enlarge this photo for a visual description.

Customer-owned and utility-owned facilites

Update: Saturday, Sept. 18, 8:10 a.m.

We ask all of you who remain without power due to Nicholas to know that our crews, including our additional assistance crews, are still working over weekend to make repairs and restore power.

Our information, of course, won't make being without power for days less frustrating. But we will explain the circumstances, confirm that the crews are working and ask for your continued patience. 

Anyone with health concerns should enable backup plans, if you haven't already. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.

We’d ask that you consider scrolling down this thread for information you may have missed or, if it’s your first visit to this page, not seen.

We’re pasting again on this Saturday morning update the most common questions and answers we’re being asked, which we published on Tuesday (further down this thread). We also can offer (on our Thursday afternoon post below) the answers to why Brazoria County has taken longer to restore.

The crews are at it and will continue to stay at it. Please hang in there.

Q. How do figure out what outages to fix first?

Highest priority for restoration are critical facilities, including hospitals, water-treatment plants and sewer lift stations. Subsequent prioritization is a triage process based on the number of customers served by given facilities and the amount of time required to restore those facilities. Lines with large numbers of customers and shorter likely restoration times will be worked first.

Q. Why does it take so long?

We appreciate that waiting for power to be restored can be frustrating. However, we apply the triage process described above and, for safety reasons, we don’t encourage crews to try to get work done more quickly. In short, public and crew safety is the first priority. Getting power back on comes second. But crews do work as quickly as safety allows.

Q. Why do you talk about safety so much?

A power company lineman’s work is potentially hazardous in perfect conditions, in particular due to using heavy equipment and working around energized equipment. After storms, broken equipment, lines down and hazards hidden among debris all offer further hazard possibilities. In addition, crews have to manage staying safe amid Covid now, too.

Q. Why can’t you provide a more precise restoration estimate for my home?

We can’t realistically provide premise-by-premise restoration estimates. Assessment of the “next job” can’t be started until the “current job” is completed and crews have moved on. What will be required from job to job is difficult, at best, to determine. However, our experienced employees – and we have many who have been through quite a few storms – are able to provide assessments of how long complete restoration may take. Estimates, of course, are exactly that – estimates. And they always are subject to change.

Q. Why don’t I see trucks near my home?

While the power may be out at your home, it doesn’t necessarily mean the issue that interrupted your power – where the line crews need to be – is near your home. In addition, with the triage process described above, the outage affecting you may not be worked for a while. We understand that it’s frustrating and that seeing some signs that “something is being done” can be reassuring, we have to work our triage process and send our crews where they need to be to restore power to the largest numbers of customers first.

Q. How come my neighbors’ power came back on and mine didn’t?

This is an understandably frustrating – but not uncommon – scenario. Entire circuits may be restored, but some customers served by those circuits still may be without power due to damage on a smaller, local scale. This scenario can be block-to-block or even house-to-house. To be honest, single-customer outages likely will fall near the end of our triage process while we focus on restoring larger numbers of customers first.

Q. How come I’m out when I’m designated a Critical Care customer?

Critical Care provides safeguards for customers to reduce the likelihood of being turned off via a disconnection order from customers’ chosen retail provider billing companies. Critical Care status does not guarantee an uninterrupted, regular, or continuous power supply. If electricity is a necessity, you must make other arrangements for on-site back-up capabilities or other alternatives in the event of loss of electric service.

Q. What about my family member who uses powered medical equipment?

We appreciate that customers’ backup plans for medical equipment, as discussed before Nicholas arrived (see below), sometimes can fall through. We urge customers to seek alternate arrangements – at home or elsewhere – to power medical equipment.

Update: Friday, Sept. 17, 3:05 p.m.

Crews continue working today, with plenty of work to do. But progress remains under way. Our estimates remain as described in this morning's post (below). 

Click to enlarge photos of the crews working (in order) in western/central Brazoria County, the Alvin/Friendswood/League City area and the Dickinson/La Marque/Texas City areas.

Crews working in central & western Brazoria Co

Crews working in Alvin/Friendswood/League City area

Crews working in Dickinson/La Marque/Texas City area

Update: Friday, Sept. 17, 7 a.m.

Our crews made strong progress on Thursday and have restored more than 85 percent of customers who were out at peak on Tuesday morning.

Much work remains to be completed in Brazoria County, where – as you know – the storm hit the hardest and caused the most damage within TNMP territory.

The information we provide is going to sound increasingly repetitive. We've reached that point discussed below where it seems like work is "slowing down," even though it isn't. Please hang in there! More additional crews are working in the area and they're going to keep grinding and getting power restored.

Please steer clear of crews' work areas; safety remains the most important consideration.

Our revised estimates are unchanged from Thursday:

  • Brazoria County (except Alvin): Tuesday at 6 p.m.
  • Dickinson, La Marque and Texas City: Sunday at 6 p.m.
  • Alvin, Friendswood and League City: today at 6 p.m.

Estimates, of course, remain subject to change.

For answers about why Brazoria County has taken longer, please scroll down to the Thursday afternoon update.

For answers to most other questions we’re receiving regularly, please scroll down to the Tuesday evening update.

Update: Thursday, Sept. 16, 1:15 p.m.

A question we’ve been asked quite a bit today relates to why outage restoration will take longer in western and central Brazoria County than in Galveston County.

The really short answer is that Tropical Storm-turned-Hurricane Nicholas struck harder, with higher and more sustained winds, than in areas further northeast.

Weather reports suggested that areas outside TNMP territory to the southwest, including Matagorda Bay, were struck even harder than our communities.

What is certain is that the most damage to our facilities, including broken poles, lines down and broken trees wrapped in/around our lines, was in western and central Brazoria County. 

We also have more lineman and tree-trimming crews working those areas. Our Galveston County crews will shift to Brazoria County as jobs are completed, too.

We recognize that this information can be only so useful to you if your power still is out. But we ask that you understand there simply is more work to be done in Brazoria County and it’s a long, hard grind to get our equipment back in the air and power restored – all while our crews continue to make sure they’re working safely.

We hope everyone still out is hanging in OK. We’ll keep at it until we can get everyone back on. 

Additional information, including answers to the questions we’re being asked the most, can be found in this morning's and Tuesday evening's updates below.

Update: Thursday, Sept. 16, 7:50 a.m.

Our crews have been hard at work across the Gulf Coast region and have restored more than 60 percent of customers who were out at peak on Tuesday morning.

We realize for those of you still without power, your response may be, “That’s nice, but … .” We absolutely know many customers remain out and much work remains to be done.

Revising estimates

The progress means we also now can re-assess our final restoration estimates. Sorry to say, we’re pushing back our estimates for most of you who still are out.

Our current estimates to get final customers restored now are:

  • Brazoria County (except Alvin): Tuesday at 6 p.m.
  • Dickinson, La Marque and Texas City: Sunday at 6 p.m.
  • Alvin, Friendswood and League City: Friday at 6 p.m. (unchanged)

We ask that you keep in mind that the estimates, which remain subject to change, reflect when we believe we’ll be able to get final customers restored. Most customers will be restored before these times.

We’re unable to provide more finite estimates and, sorry, but our customer service agents also won’t have more details.

Why are estimates changing?

The revisions reflect our assessments of how much work remains to be done, which is determined by how much damage Nicholas caused us Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Much of Brazoria County, as you know, was hit extremely hard. Areas further inland, while seriously impacted, weren’t struck with quite as much ferocity.

Restoration ‘slowing down’?

As storm restoration progresses, it takes just as much – if not more – work by our crews to restore fewer and fewer numbers of customers per job. Thus, in terms of numbers you may see, it can appear that progress is “slowing down.”

We can assure you, however, that our crews will keep working hard to get everyone restored. 

Answers to common questions

We’ve received many questions the last few days; understandably so. The most-asked questions are addressed further down this thread on the Tuesday evening update. We encourage you to review any that may be relevant for you.

Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 11:40 a.m.

Our second wave of additional crews, including linemen and tree crews, arrived late Tuesday and have been working today. We anticipate making significant progress in restoring more customers today.

The current restoration estimate remains Friday at 6 p.m. That is subject to change. It also is the estimate for getting final customers restored. Most customers will be restored before then. We're unable to provide more finite estimates.

We appreciate that progress may not really feel like progress to some customers until their power has been restored. As many customers as we restore today, we’ll know there still will be plenty of folks out. We’re going to stay on it until the end.

Please see our Q&A’s below, posted Tuesday evening, including regarding our outage-prioritization, single-home outages and medical equipment considerations.

Update: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 8:45 p.m.

Progress has continued throughout the day on restoring power taken out by Nicholas. We’ve restored more than 40 percent of homes and businesses who were out at peak this morning.

For customers still out: Our current estimate to get final customers restored remains Friday at 6 p.m.

We know customers who are out can have questions. Below we address some common inquiries we’ve received.

Q. How do figure out what outages to fix first?

Highest priority for restoration are critical facilities, including hospitals, water-treatment plants and sewer lift stations. Subsequent prioritization is a triage process based on the number of customers served by given facilities and the amount of time required to restore those facilities. Lines with large numbers of customers and shorter likely restoration times will be worked first.

Q. Why does it take so long?

We appreciate that waiting for power to be restored can be frustrating. However, we apply the triage process described above and, for safety reasons, we don’t encourage crews to try to get work done more quickly. In short, public and crew safety is the first priority. Getting power back on comes second. But crews do work as quickly as safety allows.

Q. Why do you talk about safety so much?

A power company lineman’s work is potentially hazardous in perfect conditions, in particular due to using heavy equipment and working around energized equipment. After storms, broken equipment, lines down and hazards hidden among debris all offer further hazard possibilities. In addition, crews have to manage staying safe amid Covid now, too.

Q. Why can’t you provide a more precise restoration estimate for my home?

We can’t realistically provide premise-by-premise restoration estimates. Assessment of the “next job” can’t be started until the “current job” is completed and crews have moved on. What will be required from job to job is difficult, at best, to determine. However, our experienced employees – and we have many who have been through quite a few storms – are able to provide assessments of how long complete restoration may take. Estimates, of course, are exactly that – estimates. And they always are subject to change.

Q. Why don’t I see trucks near my home?

While the power may be out at your home, it doesn’t necessarily mean the issue that interrupted your power – where the line crews need to be – is near your home. In addition, with the triage process described above, the outage affecting you may not be worked for a while. We understand that it’s frustrating and that seeing some signs that “something is being done” can be reassuring, we have to work our triage process and send our crews where they need to be to restore power to the largest numbers of customers first.

Q. How come my neighbors’ power came back on and mine didn’t?

This is an understandably frustrating – but not uncommon – scenario. Entire circuits may be restored, but some customers served by those circuits still may be without power due to damage on a smaller, local scale. This scenario can be block-to-block or even house-to-house. To be honest, single-customer outages likely will fall near the end of our triage process while we focus on restoring larger numbers of customers first.

Q. How come I’m out when I’m designated a Critical Care customer?

Critical Care provides safeguards for customers to reduce the likelihood of being turned off via a disconnection order from customers’ chosen retail provider billing companies. Critical Care status does not guarantee an uninterrupted, regular, or continuous power supply. If electricity is a necessity, you must make other arrangements for on-site back-up capabilities or other alternatives in the event of loss of electric service.

Q. What about my family member who uses powered medical equipment?

We appreciate that customers’ backup plans for medical equipment, as discussed before Nicholas arrived (see below), sometimes can fall through. We urge customers to seek alternate arrangements – at home or elsewhere – to power medical equipment.

Update: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 10:20 a.m.

(Next update planned Tuesday evening)

We have completed preliminary assessments and we’re revising our estimate to get final customers in the Gulf Coast region restored to Friday at 6 p.m.

Important clarification:

  • That estimate is to get the final customers on.
  • Some customers already have been restored today and we anticipate many more as the day progresses. 
  • Most customers will be restored before Friday at 6 p.m.

Please disregard estimates you see elsewhere. Our automated phone system will be updated soon to reflect the revised estimate.

We understand that you would prefer to a more specific estimate around which you can plan. While most of you will be restored earlier, please be prepared for the possibility of being out until Friday at 6 p.m.

Update: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 6:40 a.m.

(Next update planned no later than 9 a.m. on Tuesday)

Nicholas was upgraded to a hurricane, then later made landfall and returned back to a tropical storm, during the overnight hours.

The storm delivered additional significant outage impacts across Brazoria and Galveston counties. Our crews will restore power as quickly as safety allows, using the triage-like approach described further down this thread in our pre-storm press release. 

The current restoration estimate for most customers, as reported by our automated phone system, reads 7 p.m. today. But we anticipate revising that later this morning as we assess the storm’s impact.

We understand everyone’s desire to get more information as soon as possible. We will provide the best realistic estimates and information that we can, but please anticipate that estimates remain subject to change. Sorry, our agents on the telephones won’t have more specifics.

Please review flooding- and portable generator-related safety tips below.

Update: Monday, Sept. 13, 9:50 p.m.

(Next update planned no later than 8 a.m. on Tuesday.)

Nicholas gradually has been felt more and more this evening in terms of power outages in TNMP areas of Brazoria and Galveston counties.

Brazoria County, as of this writing, has been hit particularly hard. Galveston County has felt impacts, too. For the moment, we’re generally reporting Tuesday at 1 p.m. as our current estimate to get final customers restored. (For now, please disregard any alternative data you may see on our outage map.)

That estimate is even more subject to change than normal, in part because we don’t know what the impacts may be in the coming hours. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant increase in outages as the overnight progresses.

We hope our 24- to 48-hours-or-more guidance from Sunday won’t be true, but please continue to assume that will be the case. Sorry, but our agents on the telephones won't have more specifics.

Flooding & electricity: For your safety, please learn in advance the safe methods for turning off the breaker box mains in your electric panel. Turn it off before water enters a structure and conduct the work while standing on dry ground.

Portable generators: For the safety of your neighbors, our linemen and you, follow the manufacturer's safety warnings to the letter. Set up and run well away from a structure. Directly power only individual appliances and not your entire home or business.

Sunday, Sept. 12, 2 p.m. (press release)

TNMP issued the following press release to Gulf Coast news media on Sunday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m.:

Power Outages Possible Due to Nicholas

Texas City, Texas
September 12, 2021

Texas-New Mexico Power, which delivers power to more than 130,000 homes and businesses in Brazoria and Galveston counties, is preparing for power outages that may result from Tropical Storm Nicholas.

Additional crews will respond to the Gulf Coast region in anticipation of possible widespread, significant or lengthy outages.

The forecast seemingly leaves open a broad range of possible impacts in TNMP territory, from a few small outages to a large, multi-day event. High winds and lightning typically are the major culprits for storm-caused power outages, but heavy rains and flooding can complicate restoration efforts.

"We're preparing for what possibly could become a significant power outage event, but that we hope will have limited impact," TNMP President Neal Walker said.

"Our crews will be focused on ensuring public safety and their own safety first, because the after-effects of tropical storms can be hazardous. But they will restore power to the largest numbers of customers they can as quickly as safety allows."

Getting ready

  • Customers should be prepared for the possibility they could be without power for 24-48 hours or even for many days.

  • Impacts on TNMP's system and resulting outages are difficult to predict and will be determined by the storm.

  • Customers who use powered medical equipment should re-confirm their backup plans right away.

  • No one should approach a downed power line; instead they should report it to the power company and call 911 if the downed line is an immediate hazard to people or property.

  • Crews will restore power as quickly as safety allows, using a triage approach outlined below.

  • Significant flooding could delay our power-restoration efforts if it limits crews' ability to safely travel around the area.

Electricity and Flooding

  • If there is risk of flooding near homes or businesses, we suggest that residents and business owners learn in advance the safe methods for turning off the breaker box mains in their electric panels.

  • If flooding of a premise seems likely, breaker box mains should be turned off before water enters buildings.

  • People touching breaker boxes should stand on dry ground.

  • Don't wait for TNMP to turn off the power in the area.

Safe Distances From Employees & Damaged Equipment

  • Crews will work as quickly as can be done safely to assess damage and restore power, whether the impact on our system is large or small.

  • Customers are asked to keep their distance from crew members and their job sites, both for Covid-19 reasons and because our work sites and equipment can be hazardous to untrained people.

Possible Impacts on Customers

  • Lengthy power outages often can result from any tropical storm.

  • Winds can damage equipment directly, along with broken and blowing tree limbs contacting wires and other equipment.

  • Flooding resulting from the storm also could impact service. For example: employees potentially could be unable to reach and/or repair equipment and power in areas with underground service may need to be turned off by us to ensure public safety.

Important Tips for Customers

  • Prepare for the possibility that you could be without power for 24-48 hours or even for many days.

  • If someone in your home is dependent upon powered medical equipment, confirm your backup plan right away.

  • Stock up on batteries and check flashlights in advance.

  • Stock up on bottled water and non-perishable food in advance; include a manual can opener.

  • Make a plan for your mobile phone, including to turn it on only periodically if power is out and getting a backup energy source (battery-operated devices or a car charger).

Portable Generator Safety Tips

  • Check the manufacturer's safety warnings in advance.

  • Set up and run well away from a home or business due to the risk of carbon monoxide being pulled in from outside.

  • Directly power only individual appliances and not your entire home or business.

More Safety Tips

  • Teach everyone in your home to stay far away from any downed power lines and equipment.

  • Downed lines may not be visible in flood waters.

  • Assume that every line is energized and deadly, even if power is out in the area.

  • Call 911 if there's an immediate threat to public safety, then call us at 888-866-7456.

How Power Restoration Is Prioritized

  • Highest priority for restoration are critical facilities, including hospitals, water-treatment plants and sewer lift stations.

  • Subsequent prioritization is a triage process based on the number of customers served by given facilities and the amount of time required to restore those facilities. Lines with large numbers of customers and shorter likely restoration times will be worked first.

  • Entire areas may be restored, but some customers within those areas still may be without power due to additional damage on a smaller, local scale. This scenario can be block-to-block or even house-to-house.

  • Outages affecting very small numbers of customers each generally are worked toward the end.

  • Areas where trees and overhead lines are in close proximity often can take longer because of the time required to cut trees from the lines before damaged equipment can be repaired.

  • During storm-restoration work, our tree trimmers will leave the trimmed branches on customer property.

How Customers Can Get Information

  • If TNMP's system is impacted significantly, we plan to publish general, high-level updates about power restoration on a regional level after assessments have been completed.

  • We'll be unable to provide details about specific areas of a given city or neighborhood.

  • All estimates will be based on latest available damage assessments and are subject to change.

Estimates and updates will be provided via:

  • Our automated customer phone system: 888-866-7456

  • Twitter (@tnmp)

  • Facebook (@texasnewmexicopower)

Gulf Coast Communities Served by TNMP

  • Alvin

  • Angleton

  • Bailey's Prairie

  • Brazoria

  • Dickinson

  • Friendswood

  • Holiday Lakes

  • La Marque

  • League City

  • Old Ocean

  • Pearland (small portion of town)

  • Sweeny

  • Texas City

  • West Columbia