While CenterPoint Energy officials work to restore power to the greater Houston area – the number of outages in the region has dropped from 2.2 million at the end of July 8 to about 1.58 million by the afternoon of July 9 – Houston and Harris County officials said restoring power is a top priority going forward.

In a July 9 press conference with acting Governor Dan Patrick, Houston Mayor John Whitmire said he had received a commitment from CenterPoint Energy that power would be restored to at least another million customers by 4 p.m. on July 10.

“We hold CenterPoint accountable,” Whitmire said.

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Although Patrick said the focus right now is to restore power as quickly as possible, authorities will review the incident later to determine how the response could have been better handled and emergency responders better prepared.

Brad Tutunjian, CenterPoint’s vice president of sales operations and service delivery, said CenterPoint had mutual aid agreements in place with 10,000 workers before the storm and brought in another 2,000 after the storm. But he said it needed additional time to get them ready to work because of training and an assessment period after the storm. About 7,500 workers were on the job as of the afternoon of July 9, with another 2,500 scheduled to be deployed by the end of July 9 and another 2,000 on July 10.

One of the first steps once crews are on site will be a full assessment of tens of thousands of circuit miles in Houston. About 1,300 circuits are down, Tutunjian said.

“We can tell you exactly which circuits are down; we can tell you exactly how many customers are down. But we can’t tell you how much damage there is to that circuit until we’re actually on the scene,” he said. “We have hundreds of assessors on the scene trying to get that information as quickly and effectively as possible.”

On the evening of July 9, traffic lights remained out across the city, Whitmire said, urging people to avoid non-essential travel after dark.