AEP officials say strong winds caused power outages

Electrical problems

AEP Spokesman Frank Espinoza said given the recent pole-top fires, which have left many without power throughout the valley, the rain helps clean thousands of miles of electrical lines that have collected dust during the drought.

"All the dust is flying and settling in on our pole equipment, substations etc., Espinoza said. The conditions are just right and with a certain amount of moisture, it causes arcing down to the pole and catches on fire. However, with the rain brought up to 65 mph wind gusts.

Instead of just washing down power lines, this weekend TMs storm also knocked down several electrical poles leaving about 14,000 homes without power.

The most affected areas were the cities of Hidalgo, Weslaco and Port Isabel.

"The rain was not the issue, the gusts were and so because the gusts were causing tree limbs to fall, and then crack, that's what's causing the outages," Espinoza said. "The rainfall was good - I cannot stress that enough. It's good for us, it's good for the (AEP) system and good for farmers."

In many cases power restoration was a matter of trimming trees, in other instances it took crews hours to erect fallen light poles.

Some of the most serious reports in Cameron County included calls for help from families that lost their homes in the storm.

Cameron County Emergency Manager Humberto Barrera said it's a good reminder that we should never underestimate mother nature and it's never too early to prepare for severe weather.

"The community needs to realize that it doesn't take a hurricane to change things, it can be a simple storm that develops out of the west and comes into the Valley, Barrera said. Right now is the time that you need to buy canned food, flashlights and a generator if you can."

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