Archive for September, 2008

Credits and Fees Waived because of Hurricane Ike
September 29, 2008

  Through Sept. 30th, Reliant Energy is offering the following to all customers in the CenterPoint and Texas New Mexico Power Service areas:

·          Assistance with bill payments, including extensions, payment plans and average billing, depending on the customer’s specific needs.

·          Suspension of late fees and disconnections for nonpayment.

If you live in one of the following zip codes, you are eligible for the above help through November 1st: 77014, 77027, 77058, 77068, 77069, 77070, 77073, 77090, 77379, 77380, 77381, 77382, 77384, 77388, 77389,77422, 77507, 77510, 77515, 77517, 77518, 77523, 77531, 77534, 77535, 77536, 77539, 77541, 77546, 77550, 77551, 77554 ,77563, 77565, 77566, 77568, 77571, 77573, 77577, 77578, 77586, 77590, 77591, 77598

Reliant has also extended its voluntary moratorium on disconnection of electric service through November 1 for low-income seniors, critical-care, and other low-income residential customers who contact Reliant and agree to a payment plan.

Customers who are relocating and provide proof of benefits from FEMA, state or local government, or the Red Cross can pay their deposit in two installments through November 1.

In addition, Reliant continues to take calls from members of the community who need to report conditions related to electricity service at their home or business and is conveying that information to CenterPoint Energy. Reliant Energy agents are available 24 hours a day at 713-207-7777

During this time of need, TXU Energy is assisting customers affected by Hurricane Ike by:

Ø      Extending payment due dates;

Ø      Allowing customers to pay 25 percent on the total amount due and defer the balance over five installments;

Ø      Extending special summer customer protections for low-income, the ill and disabled and those age 62 or above in affected areas.  The special summer customer protections – which declared a moratorium on disconnections and provided more flexible payment plans – were scheduled to end September 30;

Ø      Waiving late fees;

Ø      Allowing new customers to pay deposits in two installments;

To take advantage of this assistance, TXU Energy customers affected by the storm must call 1-866-CALL-TXU.  The assistance is available at least through November 1.

 We understand that some of our customers may be experiencing financial difficulties and/or issues with the mail or internet access that may impact their ability to pay their bills on time. We are temporarily suspending late fees and extending a deferred payment plan to customers who call in and tell us that they are affected by Hurricane Ike. For the deferred payment plan, the customer must make a down payment of 25 percent and then pay the remaining balance over three months. Customers are encouraged to call 866-785-4668 (M-F 8 am – 8 pm) to discuss their circumstances with a Green Mountain Customer Care representative.

CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas customers affected by Ike will not receive late notices and late fees will be waived, said spokeswoman Leticia Lowe.
In addition, the utility will also waive security deposits for customers displaced by the storm, she said.
 

 

 

 

There are dozens of retail electric providers serving our area. If yours is not one of the 3 listed above, you should contact your electric company directly to find out if they are offering any assistance to customers affected by Ike.

American Express Hurricane Help

Compass Bank has waived access fees to its network of ATMs in Houston and other cities in Texas where it figures Houstonians fleeing the storm may need quick cash, said Thomas Graham, executive vice president of communications in Houston.
The bank also is allowing its small business and consumer customers to defer their loan payments, such as car and recreational vehicle loans. The deferral is up to 60 days depending on the customer’s individual circumstances.
Customers who need early access to their certificates of deposit can have them without paying early withdrawal fees, he said.

And late payments will be forgiven, he said.

Graham stressed – as did other service providers – the importance of giving notice that a payment will be late.

 

 

Sprint is waiving roaming fees, call-forwarding, late fees and overage charges for customers who use more minutes or text messages than they’re allowed between Sept. 9 and Oct. 11, said spokeswoman Kristin Wallace. The company is also offering free call-forwarding service and Sprint has suspended collections calls and service disconnections.

Allstate is offering deferred billing options, according to spokeswoman Kristen Beaman. The company will send affected customers a letter, but those who have been relocated can call their agent or 800-547-8676.

Time Warner Cable, which provides cable service for Beaumont and parts of Southeast Texas, has credited customers’ accounts back to Sept. 12 and will extend credits until service is restored in their neighborhood to the best of the company’s knowledge, said spokesman Gary Underwood.  The company will not charge customers for any digital equipment lost or damaged as a result of Hurricane Ike. 

(in-home equipment defined as; modems, digital receivers, remotes)

 Comcast is providing credits to customers whose service was interrupted.  Customers should call us at 1-800-COMCAST so we can ensure they receive credit for the amount of time they were without service.  For customers who prefer to send an email, they can do so by clicking on the Contact Us link on www.comcast.com

 

We know our customers have been through a difficult time and want to work with each one based on their individual circumstances.  We’re asking that residents in the coastal areas whose homes were flooded or destroyed eventually return the leased equipment to one of our service centers – even if it’s damaged.  We’ll replace the converter box, modem or remote at no charge.  In the case where the equipment has been completely lost due to the storm, customers should file on their homeowners’ insurance policy at the same time that other household claims, such as appliances and other electronics, are filed.  These items will appear on their monthly statement, however, payment will not be required for at least 90 days, allowing adequate time to receive re-imbursement from their insurance carrier.  

 

Is your MUD water safe?
September 17, 2008

All Municipal Water Districts in Harris and Fort Bend county in this spreadsheet are under “boil advisories,” meaning you should boil your tap water for a full minute before you use it to cook or drink.

This information was provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  TCEQ received some of this information days ago, but a spokesperson says the information is the most current available. If yuo have not heard from your MUD at all, just boil your water until you hear it is definitely safe.

Public Water System I.D. Public Water System Name County City  TCEQ Region Comments Incident Start Date   Incident End Date
0790158 KINGSBRIDGE MUD Fort Bend Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
0790189 FORT BEND MUD 37 Fort Bend Houston Houston System has water, but is on BWN. 9/15/2008  
0790315 FORT BEND COUNTY MUD 46 Fort Bend Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
0790332 BIG OAKS MUD Fort Bend Sugar Land Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
0790367 FORT BEND COUNTY MUD 116 CANYON GATE Fort Bend Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
0790412 FORT BEND COUNTY MUD NO. 124 Fort Bend Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
0790450 FORT BEND COUNTY MUD NO. 131 Fort Bend Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010278 TIMBERLANE UTILITY DISTRICT Harris Spring Houston 9/14 Already contacted, has generators going and system is up. 9/14/2008  
1010422 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 25 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1010496 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 6 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1010512 HARRIS COUNTY MUD NO. 18 Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010548 HEATHERLOCH MUD Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010554 GREENWOOD UD Harris Houston Houston Issued boil water notice 9/15/08 through Harris County Office of Emergency Management to news media. Contact is John Brock at (281)923-5971. 9/15/2008  
1010617 TRAIL OF THE LAKES MUD Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1010625 TATTOR ROAD MUD Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010634 Weston MUD  Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010750 PARKWAY UD Harris   Houston Issued boil water notice 9/15/08 through Harris County Office of Emergency Management to news media. Contact is John Brock at (281)923-5971. 9/15/2008  
1010897 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 118 Harris Sugar Land Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1010923 HARRIS COUNTY MUD NO. 144 Harris Sugar Land Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1010924 WINDFERN FOREST UTILITY DISTRICT Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1010938 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 148 KINGSLAKE Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1011008 NORTHWEST HARRIS COUNTY MUD 6 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1011238 WHITE OAK BEND MUD Harris Houston Houston System operating on generator. Has approximately 2 weeks of fuel according to operator. 9/14/2008  
1011256 NORTHWEST FREEWAY MUD Harris Houston Houston System operating on generator with about 2 days of fuel. 9/14/2008  
1011258 WEST HARRIS CO. MUD 6 Harris Houston Houston Issued boil water notice 9/15/08 through Harris County Office of Emergency Management to news media. Contact is John Brock at (281)923-5971. 9/15/2008  
1011296 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 149 Harris Houston Houston System has water at this time.  They are having breaker problems with their generator. 9/15/2008  
1011685 MORTON RD MUD Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1011690 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 70 Harris Houston Houston System has no water at this time. 9/15/2008  
1011741 LAKE MUD Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1011785 HORSEPEN BAYOU MUD Harris Houston Houston Issued boil water notice 9/15/08 through Harris County Office of Emergency Management to news media. Contact is John Brock at (281)923-5971. 9/15/2008  
1011825 WEST HARRIS COUNTY MUD NO. 4 Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1011864 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 170 Harris Sugar Land Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1011901 NORTHWEST HARRIS COUNTY MUD 12 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1011911 SOUTHWEST HARRIS COUNTY MUD 1 Harris Houston Houston System has no water at this time they are connected to the City of Houston. 9/15/2008  
1011982 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 188 Harris Houston Houston 9/14/2008 at 2:00 PM; source is city of houston, no source water available 9/14/2008  
1012000 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 36 Harris Houston Houston 9/14 1:30 Plant lost power but power has now been restored via generator. 9/14/2008  
1012082 BEECHNUT MUD Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  
1012330 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 264 Harris Houston Houston System has water at this time.  They are having breaker problems with their generator. 9/15/2008  
1012350 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 250 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1012351 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 155 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on a BWN.  They don’t have a generator. 9/15/2008  
1012389 GREENS PARKWAY MUD Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012725 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 182 Harris Houston Houston System has no water at this time.  They are having breaker problems with their generator. 9/15/2008  
1012740 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 230 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012835 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 278 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012842 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 167 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012865 KINGS MANOR MUD Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012866 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 261 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012897 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 360 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012942 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 276 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on a BWN.  They don’t have a generator. 9/15/2008  
1012970 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 172 Harris Houston Houston System is up and running. 9/15/2008  
1012972 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 221 Harris Houston Houston Contacted 9/14/08 at 1:30 pm.  Plant lost power, but power has now been restored via generator. 9/14/2008  
1012973 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 342 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1012974 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 344 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1013077 NORTHGATE CROSSING MUD 1 Harris Houston Houston System is up and running, but they are on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1013078 NORTHGATE CROSSING MUD 2 Harris Houston Houston System is up and running, but they are on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1013107 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 371 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on BWN. 9/15/2008  
1013147 HARRIS COUNTY WCID 156 Harris Houston Houston Talked with James.  They have three wells and receive water from Houston.  They are back up to pressure pumping from one well on back-up power.  They have enough fuel to last the week.  Pumping station at 14210 Middlebrook Dr. has been without emergency power since 10 O’Clock Thursday night, no generator.  Cannot provide water do to power issue at pumping station.  Contacts at station are Eloy Mendoza and Able Garcia. Phone: 281-488-7230 9/142008  
1013156 HARRIS COUNTY UTILITY DISTRICT 16 Harris Houston Houston Contacted 9/14/2008 at 12:30; connected to 2 other plants, 221 and 154; have several systems; scrambling; contact Juan Montano; cell 713-204-0918; central office # 281-443-5723; currently looking at 11 wastewater treatment plants and 18 water treatment plants 9/14/2008  
1013181 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 166 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on a BWN.  They don’t have a generator. 9/15/2008  
1013223 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 361 Harris Houston Houston System lost power.  Contact is Mike Thornhill at (832)240-1700. 9/15/2008  
1013327 HARRIS COUNTY MUD 156 Harris Houston Houston System has water, but is on a BWN.  They don’t have a generator. 9/15/2008  
1013399 HARRIS COUNTY MUD NO. 420 Harris Houston Houston System is in the Houston area and lost pressure due to a loss in power related to hurricane Ike.  9/15/2008  

 

I don’t like Ike
September 13, 2008

It’s 7:11am. I am sitting in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Ardmore. Photographer John Barone and I are trying to head to the Texas Medical Center to check out damage from the storm.  We first drove down 59 and exited Kirby. But high water there drove us back onto the freeway.  We’ve seen huge highway signs laying on the roadway, trees uprooted and split in Southwest Houston (especially Fondren and South Course Rd) and dangling powerlines and street lights, but we ran into the most frightening thing on HIghway 288. Flood waters.

We were driving through water (that we didn’t necessarily consider too high), when our Ford Exploer shuddered and then just shut down.  OK… it was pitch black at 4:24 in the morning. We called the station a little panicked.  What would we do? Another news trucks sent to rescue us would also get stuck if it drove all the way down 288. Fortunately, after a couple of tries, the old Explorer  sputtered and then started.

We’ve been waiting for daylight since so that we can actually see where we are driving.

Preparing for Hurricane Ike
September 11, 2008

I called my best friend on the way home from work today. I told her I was trying to go home and sleep so I can be back at the station and bright-eyed by 2am.  She, on the other hand, is having a Hurricane Party at her home in Montgomery.  I’ve heard about those hurricane parties… but I’ve never been to one! It’s pretty much a given I’ll be at work if a hurricane is headed towards Houston.

So how does a reporter get ready for a big storm?  I snapped some pictures around the house to show you.

Now I better get to bed.  It’s 6:55pm. I have to wake up at midnight to be at work at 2am. Who knows where they’ll send me. You’ll have to tune in to find out!

Your questions about Hurricane Ike
September 11, 2008

“My husband gassed up my car early this morning. At noon, he filled car’s tank.  The price, per gallon, at the Shell station on FM 1960 West, in the Champions area, was raised 14 CENTS from this morning to this afternoon!  This is simply robbery and should not be allowed to happen!!”

Nikki Akin

We have received several emails and calls about suspected price gouging. If you believe you were charged excessively for items like gas, food, generators or drinking water, you should first try and talk with employees of the business.  If that doesn’t get you anywhere, save your receipts and file complaints with the two following agencies:

Texas AG’s Office

http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/price_gouging.shtml

800-252-8011

Harris County Attorney’s Office

(713) 755-5101

In a news conference broadcast live today on KPRC, Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford said to businesses who are charging excessive prices for necessities, “Your actions will not go unnoticed and they won’t go unpunished.”

Price gouging is punishable by a civil penalty of $20,000 per incident. If the victim is 65 or older, each incident can cost the business $250,000.  

My daughter is a repair tech for COMCAST and has been told it is mandatory for her to work tomorrow-bring extra clothes-ice chest and food. If there is no electricity how can she repair anyones cable? What happens if she doen’t work after being told it is mandatory?
Linda

Luby’s- I called the restaurant due to my mother working there and she may be one to be in mandatory evacuation, the manager said they are open for business and even if employees were in evacuation zones, they had to work they were open for business. That is putting these employees in danger.

Sandra          

I’m curious::Mandatory evacuation, so my job is closed friday 9/12/08.  We have to use vacation or personal time. Is that fair? What if you have neither? If they were open I’d come to work. They decided to close because in reality it is mandatory and rather safe than sorry– so why can’t they compensate??     

I called the Texas Workforce Commission to get answers to all of the above questions. A spokesperson with the Commission responded with this statement:

Chapter 22 of the Texas Labor Code provides that an employer may not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee who leaves the employee’s place of employment to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order. Employers who violate this restriction are liable for any loss of wages or employer-provided benefits caused by the violation, and have to reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position of employment. The chapter does contain an exception to the prohibition in the case of emergency services personnel and those who are necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the general public.

                                                                                                  

For specific questions about pay and time worked or not worked, call the Ombudsman with the Texas Workforce Commission.  Her name is Susan Hammack. She can be reached at (512) 936-0734.

Stay safe out there!