A Surge To Restore Power In Texas

Half a million people have electricity again in parts of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Ike. But nearly 4 million people are still without power, and energy companies said they are working furiously to restore full power to Houston, the country's fourth largest city.

Officials at CenterPoint Energy, which services the area of Texas hit by the storm, said they are restoring power as quickly as they can, especially in critical places like hospitals.

"We recognize that electricity is not a luxury, it's essential in our lives today," said Floyd LeBlanc, CenterPoint's vice president of corporate communications. "We understand our customers not only want electric service restored, they need it restored. And we are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the power restored."

Work crews have been arriving from all across the country, converging on staging areas like the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

"We're getting quite a few contractors in from all over the Southwest, all the way out of Forest, California," said David Burleson, a retired operations manager for CenterPoint who is coordinating workers from the race track.

In the hardest hit areas, crews are out in boats and wading through swampy waters to get power lines up and running again. Using cranes and shovels, a crew from New Jersey cleared downed utility poles in one North Houston community on Tuesday. James Jones, a resident of the neighborhood, said he was grateful for the crew members' work, because with power he will no longer need to throw away food from his freezer and refrigerator.

But as the lights go back on, street by street, some people are becoming increasingly frustrated as some buildings such as downtown skyscrapers regain power, while others remain dark.

Burleson said the limited crews are working as quickly as possible.

"Well, they're getting it back every day," he said. "But you can't say everybody will have it back at a certain time, because somebody's always going to be last."

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