Thousands of customers without power after storms plow through East Texas

Heather Moore caught spider lightning rippling through the clouds at her house in Gilmer.
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 1:03 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS, Texas (KLTV) - As a storm system rumbled through East Texas overnight Thursday into Friday, thousands of people lost their electricity.

Strong winds were noted in the system, according to Meteorologist Cody Gottschalk, contributing to the widespread the outages.

Conditions reported by several major providers are listed below and will continue to be updated.

SWEPCO has issued a restoration timeline for its customers. It reads as follows:

With heat indices reaching over 100 degrees today, SWEPCO crews are tirelessly working around the clock to restore power across our service area. This is a look at the extensive damage from early morning storms throughout much of south Shreveport. The high winds snapped and brought down trees on top of numerous homes and power lines and poles. Lines remain down in many neighborhoods. Please use caution and do not attempt to move any downed lines.

As a result of early morning storms on Friday that brought straight line and hurricane force winds to much of SWEPCO’s east Texas and northwest Louisiana service territories, SWEPCO has activated an all-in response to restore electric service to all impacted customers.

To help restore service to our communities as quickly and as safely as possible, we have requested mutual assistance from neighboring utility companies. Approximately 2,800 utility professionals are scheduled to arrive in the SWEPCO service territory beginning Friday evening to help restore power.

Due to excessive damage to our electrical facilities, SWEPCO customers should prepare for prolonged power outages and in some cases additional outages as we repair damage to our system. We will know more once damage assessment is completed. Customers should prepare to be without service for an extended period.

Currently, more than 233,898 customers remain without power following the severe weather. Following initial damage assessments today, restoration estimates for areas impacted by the storm are below but could be resolved sooner. Restoration times will be updated as crews continue working to restore power.

Natchitoches service territory in Louisiana – 10 p.m., Tuesday, June 20

Texarkana service territory in Texas – 10 p.m., Wednesday, June 21

Longview service territory in Texas – 10 p.m., Friday, June 23

Shreveport service territory and surrounding communities in Louisiana – 10 p.m., Saturday, June 24

As we get more specific information for your area, updates will be forthcoming.

If you have lost power, please turn off your air conditioner and large appliances to enable smoother service restoration. Once power is restored, switch the devices back on gradually over the following 30 to 45 minutes. Taking this step helps prevent a sudden surge in demand after power is restored, which could cause a second outage.

Service restoration could be delayed due to continued electric system issues and weather conditions.

With high heat and humidity forecast through this weekend and into next week, please heed these extreme heat safety reminders:

  • Drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Dress in loose, light clothing.
  • Open a window if the evening breeze is cool.
  • Get a cool, wet towel on your neck or forehead to help keep your body cool.
  • Close drapes and blinds to keep heat from the sun out.

As always, your safety and the safety of our crews remains paramount. Stay away and keep children and pets at least ten feet away from downed lines. Treat all downed power lines as if they are energized and dangerous.

Please report hazards by calling 888-218-3919. You can report outages at

SWEPCO issued an update Saturday at about noon:

More assistance continues to caravan into east Texas and northwest Louisiana in the wake of Friday morning’s unprecedented weather event. Crews from AEP Texas, many from the Corpus Christi area, are shown at a staging area set up at the State Fairgrounds of Louisiana early Saturday morning to assist in the ongoing restoration effort.

At its peak, close to a quarter of a million customers lost power after hurricane-force winds caused significant damage to poles and lines across the service area. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, more than 40,000 customers have had power restored.

We are grateful to the roughly 2,800 crew members who have left their families, from all across the region and beyond, to help in this historic restoration effort.

On Sunday at 9:30 a.m., SWEPCO added:

SWEPCO crews continue responding to Friday’s severe storms that caused major damage to SWEPCO’s transmission system, the backbone of SWEPCO’s energy delivery network.

Additional severe storms continue to sweep through SWEPCO service territory with more strong storms, lightning, wind damage and hail, possible on Father’s Day. In fact, overnight and early morning storms added an additional 21,000 customers, as of 9:30 a.m., Sunday without power.

While lightning and high winds will temporarily slow our response our work will not stop.

As of 11:15 a.m. Monday, SWEPCO reported 48,281 outages all across East Texas.

In a press release Friday afternoon, Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation said nearly every customer covered has had service knocked out by the storm as they reported 47,000 (97 percent) of meters were without power. They described this as a “historic event for our cooperative.” URECC representatives emphasized that due to such unprecedented damage, it could take several days for service to be fully restored to customers and that 65-70 contractors have been hired to help make said repairs.

As of 8:15 a.m. Saturday, Upshur Rural Electric said the estimate for restoration of the service area is 2-3 days. They said there is substantial widespread damage to be repaired, and noted that sometime repairs go as planned, but in other instances as repairs are made additional damage will be discovered, adding time to the repairs made. “Our target is still 2-3 days for URECC. Not 6 days, as announced by others,” the release said.

Sunday at about 8:30 a.m., URECC posted an update: As the crews get into more neighborhoods and areas, we are finding more extensive damage and need for repairs than originally known. Our estimated restoration timeframe is end of day Wednesday but this is only an estimate. Some will receive power earlier as restoration takes place. Those more damaged areas will of course take longer.

On Monday, URECC stated: We anticipate much progress today as we have even more contractors coming in to help, which will make approximately 150 contract line workers assisting URECC. ... Two things we would like to call all members attention to. 1. Sometimes power is restored to an area and then must be taken down again if linemen see something that is unsafe and needs to be repaired. And 2., if you get a message that your power has been restored, or you see all the houses around you have power but you, please check the breakers of your home and then report your outage again asap. There may be additional damage near your home.

We have had many comments that a member hasn’t even seen a line truck in their area. Please keep in mind that power comes to East Texas from sometimes hundreds of miles away through transmission lines, then travels from our metering points and travels miles and miles away to our substations, then from there through miles of line through the woods, beside the highways, over rivers and through pastures to get to your neighborhood or home. The outage that is causing your home or business to be without power may actually be miles away in a river bottom or deep in the woods. You may not see them until they move from one location to another, but they are there, throughout are 10 County service area, as they work their way from the largest power lines down to the smaller lines that lead to your driveway or yard.

Individual restorations will become faster today and more widespread now that the “base work” is being completed in the field.

The URECC site showed 22,323 (45.63%) without power at 11:15 a.m. Monday.

As of 11:15 a.m. Monday, Wood County Electric Cooperative reported 4,257 customers were without electricity. No specific restoration time was noted.

On Saturday, the cooperative reported:

Multiple broken poles for West of Winnsboro, Como, Pickton, Van Zandt County and Ben Wheeler, we are actively working to replace.

Multiple trees and downed lines are the cause for areas East of Winnsboro, Hoard, Sand Springs, Little Hope and New Hope, and crews are working those.

The communities affected by loss of transmission feed from AEP SWEPCO are Mount Vernon (1.3K meters) and Cypress Springs (1.8K meters) in Franklin County and Hawkins in Wood County (1.6K meters). Significantly, this transmission loss affects 4.7K of our meters. Damage to AEP’s transmission system was significant and they are expressing on their own website mid-week to late week restorations. We are working to get more information from them.

WCEC said it remains important for all to report their outages individually. To report outages please call the hotline at 1-866-415-2951. Members may text outages to this number too. For instructions, read here:

For those without power, please turn off HVACs and large appliances to help reduce load and aid restoration. After power returns, turn appliances on gradually over 15 to 20 minutes. This helps prevents sudden demand upon restoration, which could cause a second outage.

On Monday at 6:50 a.m., WCEC said:

We currently have 4,257 outages from the original storm damage. Most of those are affected by transmission feed. There is one outage remaining affecting 3 meters in Ben Wheeler that will be restored today. The rest of the outages are transmission related. Our crews will continue to work in these areas to remove trees/pick up lines and reconstruct our distribution system to prepare for when transmission feed is restored from AEP/SWEPCO.

Transmission related outages include:

1.3K meters: Mount Vernon and areas north, Titus County and North Lake Bob Sandlin.

1.2K meters: Cypress Springs area.

1.5K meters: Hawkins an Big Sandy region.

280 meters: Winnsboro area.

We know this is not good news and we hope restoration comes more quickly, but are still advising these members to plan to be without power at least through mid-week. As we know more we will update.

SWEPCO is reporting that 31,376 customers remain without power as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative is reporting that 11,133 customers remain without power as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Oncor is reporting about 26 customers in East Texas without power as of 11:15 a.m. Monday.

Rusk County Electric has reported 11 customers without power as of 11:15 a.m. Monday.

Trinity Valley Electric has reported approximately 58 customers without power as of 11:15 a.m. Monday.

Deep ETX Electric has reported approximately 2,000 customers without power as of 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Cherokee Co. Electric has reported 164 customers without power as of 10:30 a.m. Friday.

The City of Big Sandy is asking residents to conserve their use of water and sewer services as the city’s facilities are running on emergency backups and it will possibly take a day or more to fully restore power.

Amongst other electric companies serving customers across East Texas, as of 8:40 a.m. Friday morning the total reported outages are over 12,900.

City National Bank announced around 10:30 a.m. over Facebook that their Winnsboro, Hawkins, Holly Lake, Grand Saline, and Canton branches are fully without power. Their Mineola branch has drive-through power only, and Pittsburg is without phones.

From Friday Press Release:

Due to power outages in the area, all CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic (CTC) locations in the CHRISTUS Good Shepherd service area are closed today.

This includes clinics in Longview, Kilgore, Marshall, Gladewater. Additionally, clinics in Holly Lake Ranch and Winnsboro are closed.

The CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Ambulatory Surgery Center at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd - Longview is closed for the day. The Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute and the Institute for Health Living in Longview will be closed today. Patients whose needs are impacted are encouraged to call the provider’s office with questions or contact Patient Scheduling at (903) 315-2130.

All Good Shepherd Emergency Rooms and hospitals are fully operational. The CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Urgent Care is operational and working normal hours.

Safety reminders during a power outage:

If you see a downed power line, stay away from it. Do not touch it, as it may be energized. According to URECC, the ground around a downed power line, as far as 35 feet away, could be energized. Here are other safety tips from Upshur Rural.

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You've shared images and videos of the storms and the damage left behind, giving us a better understanding of what happened and where.