AP NEWS

Storm provided uneasy test for hurricane season

May 14, 2019

Like a loud noise at 4 a.m., last week’s storm provided a rude wakeup call for Southeast Texas, and an uneasy reminder that the official hurricane season is just 17 days away. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will be tested this year, but it was something we could not ignore.

Even though this storm wasn’t devastating, it was hardly minor. One person was killed in a traffic accident in Orange County and 60,000 people lost electricity throughout the region. Countless trees and tree limbs came down and plenty of streets were flooded. That will happen when wind gusts reached the level of a Category 1 hurricane, and 3.44 inches of rain was measured in Beaumont.

All of this would be an attention-getter anywhere, but it really hit home for a place still dealing with the after-effects of Harvey. As much as we try to forget it sometimes, we remain vulnerable because we are close to the Gulf Coast and our elevation is not high.

Overall, Entergy Texas seemed to respond to this mess pretty well. About 55,000 people lost power during Thursday night’s storm, and another 5,000 saw the lights go out on Saturday. Within a day or two, however, most had power restored.

While many of us were enjoying Mother’s Day, Entergy workers and contractors were out on the streets trying to clean up after Mother Nature. Many toiled throughout the night also. That’s not easy, and it’s not something the rest of us should forget as we handle our own recoveries.

By Tuesday afternoon, barely 200 homes were still dark, and their power was supposed to be restored that day. That’s a small percentage of the original outage, but if it was your home, it mattered a great deal. Going without power for a few hours is inconvenient, but bearable. Dealing with that for a day or two or longer is another story.

If those people — mostly in Port Arthur — were left powerless because of mechanical or electrical issues, that’s understandable. If they were last in line because they lived in low-income neighborhoods, it would not be. This is the kind of thing people notice when power is being restored, and it’s something this newspaper will be paying close attention to as part of our commitment to the public interest. The goal must always be getting the lights back on to the most people in the shortest span — wherever they live.

This time, it wasn’t a hurricane. But that possibility could loom several times in the coming months, or not at all. None of us knows that future, but all of us should be prepared to hunker down or evacuate. We can’t control the weather, but we can control our reaction to it. Let’s be ready.