Hurricane Harvey caused mass destruction when it hit the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 Hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 mph near Rockport, Texas. Then Harvey meandered around southern Texas for days as a weakening hurricane and tropical storm, dropping 40-61 inches of rainfall in southeast Texas, creating catastrophic flooding in greater Houston.
All told, the storm caused 82 deaths and an estimated $180 billion in damage. An estimated 13 million people were affected, with 135,000 homes damaged or destroyed, and up to a million cars wrecked in the flooding. Harvey caused significant disruption to the electrical grid of south Texas, the Energy Information Administration reported, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of south Texas residents for an extended period.
At the storm’s peak, more than 10,000 MW of capacity experienced outages, along with a substantial number of downed transmission and distribution lines. EIA reported the outages were mostly caused by rain or flooding, affecting generator fuel supplies, outages of transmission infrastructure; and personnel unable to reach the generating facilities. Most of the transmission line outages, including six 345 kV lines and more than two hundred 69 kV–138 kV lines, were in the immediate area along the Gulf Coast where the hurricane made landfall.
As ground zero for Hurricane Harvey, the coastal communities of Rockport and neighboring Fulton received some of the worst wind and storm surge damage from the Category 4 storm.
“It was amazing the stuff that was down and all the destruction to the trailer houses and all the other stuff that wasn’t tied down,” said Brian Brock, sales manager for Builder’s First Source, a lumberyard in Rockport. “It was just an ugly storm. It was very concentrated.
“We were hit really hard and so we had no power, no water, no gas to get started back up,” Brock recalls. “So we went back to the old school method by issuing hand tickets—load yourself, come back later and pay us because we don’t have any credit card processing capability and people couldn’t get cash. We wrote it down and people took what they needed.
“But the big thing was getting power up here, and that’s where Holt Power Systems came in and helped us immensely, providing us with a rental generator set so we could get going again.”