James Dukart
Tdworld 10134 Aep Texas Rubbish By Work Dukart

Hurricane Harvey Blog: Toward Houston and the Scale of it All

Sept. 9, 2017
And next to the old, ravaged pole and lines are new poles, new wire, new life to the electric system

While yesterday had persistent clouds and the threat of perhaps even more rain, Thursday dawns bright and clear and even a bit “cool” for south Texas. This is the result of a high pressure system that also gives the Texas Gulf Coast a protective layer against another hurricane — Katia — that is brewing further south off the shore of Mexico.

The clear, sunny skies are of course perfect for photography and videography, so I decide to retrace some of the path we had seen the day before. And one of the first thing that hits me reflects back to a conversation I had had Wednesday with my AEP TX guide. That conversation was about the simple scale of it all, and the challenge of recovery. It’s a little hard to put into words, but when you read that 10,000 poles are down, the number really isn’t something you can easily visualize. But then you drive out, and you see. Poles after poles after poles. The effect of never having noticed what we take for granted on a daily basis, now brought to the forefront because it looks so different from what we expect. No more orderly verticals hold wires aloft. Now, the old poles that are left standing are leaning, many fallen, some just simply gone. 

And then it hits you. This hurricane hit just four or five days ago — or at least gave its last wallop just a few days ago. And next to the old, ravaged pole and lines are new poles, new wire, new life to the electric system. It truly is amazing how quickly electric utilities can act and do act in the face of this kind of wide-scale carnage. It really is a massive effort. 

Speaking of wide-scale carnage, I feel drawn back to Port Aransas, one of the hardest hit areas of this region. And today, under sunny skies, mount a GoPro camera on the dash and drive through streets which are piled high with discarded and unusual household items like mattresses, chairs, sofas, appliances. Later I will see a very large transmission tower from a Texas Department of Transportation Building, crumpled atop the structure; as I head north and east towards Houston, the utility crews — up and down Highway 35; bucket trucks above decimated former boat yards, temporary housing for the disaster recovery crews right next to a small airplane storage facility whose roof has now crushed the planes inside it. And of course, as always, so much brush and trash that is being piled up to be removed. Tomorrow’s plan is Houston. I’ve seen what the wind can do, now time to go see what the flooding has done. 

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