Heat wave
A person trying to stay cool in a heat wave AFP

Restoring power to the millions of Texans affected by Hurricane Beryl is expected to take several days, if not weeks, creating a potentially hazardous health situation as the state faces a continued heat wave with temperatures in the three digits.

The storm, which struck southern Texas as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday, has left over 2.5 million homes without power and resulted in at least eight fatalities across Texas and Louisiana. As of Tuesday night, more than 1.7 million customers, predominantly in the areas from Galveston to Houston, remained without electricity.

President Biden has issued a federal emergency disaster declaration for parts of Texas to aid in the recovery efforts. Acting Texas Governor Dan Patrick announced that this declaration would provide 75% reimbursement for debris cleanup across 121 impacted counties:

"FEMA's assistance with these costs will expedite the recovery process and help ensure the safety of Texans impacted by Hurricane Beryl."

The recovery across the Lone Star State figures to be complicated by a severe heatwave, with heat indices surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat poses significant health risks, particularly for those working outdoors, the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, children, and those without air conditioning. High temperatures in the region are expected to continue into the 90s through the coming week.

Utility company CenterPoint Energy, which serves a large portion of the affected area, has reported that the storm's damage exceeded their expectations:

"The storm veered off the originally expected course and more heavily impacted the company's customers, systems and infrastructure than previously anticipated, resulting in outages to more than 2.26 million customers at its peak."

Officials have emphasized the importance of safe generator use following reports of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in Harris County. Public Utility Commission of Texas Chairman Thomas Gleeson indicated that power restoration would be a multi-day effort, with Galveston city officials estimating up to two weeks for full restoration.

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