San Antonians still recovering from outages caused by storms

Residents looking to replenish food spoiled by extended power outages

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Luis Cienfuegos - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Drivers lined up on Cincinnati Avenue on Tuesday evening, waiting to enter Woodlawn Lake Park and get some of the free food from the San Antonio Food Bank.

With more than 100,000 homes and businesses experiencing extended power outages beyond five minutes at some point due to Thursday's storm, some San Antonians are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Repairs were finished on Sunday afternoon, about three days after the storm hit, but many had to toss out food from their refrigerators and freezers that had been left uncooled for a day or longer.

"My husband just wanted me to throw everything away to make sure we didn't get, like, food poisoning or anything," said Beverly Mata-Herrera, who lives just west of the Monticello Park neighborhood.

Mata-Herrera estimated her family threw out about $200 worth of food from the fridge and freezer, including about $100 of food she had just bought after the power was out for a little more than a day.

Others had it even rougher. Down the street, Laura Narvaez was still without power Tuesday morning. Her wires and meter were pulled down by a fallen tree. Though CPS Energy would come out later that day to make repairs for her, Narvaez said her family was facing a possibly expensive electrician's bill to get the damage fixed.

"The quotes are about $1,900 right now to $3,000," she said.

In the meantime, she estimated about $1,000 worth of food from three refrigerators and a freezer had been ruined.

"We had a freezer that was full of briskets and chicken, stuff that we cater for," Narvaez said.

Rudy Garza, senior vice president of distribution services and operations for CPS Energy, said that, while the utility had everyone possible working on cleanup and repairs, the large number of fallen branches, trees and wires took time to clean up.

"So before we can restore service, you know, we've got to go out there, pick (up) the wire. You know, clear the trees, pick the wire up and, you know, before we're able to restore power," Garza said. "So the storm was significant. It was as significant as anything I've seen since I've been in this role at CPS Energy."

While a storm on Sunday also knocked out power for about 20,000 customers, Garza said it only took about a day to clean up.

Mata-Herrera said her family was able to restock its fridge after the power was restored, with the help of a food distribution event on Monday. Others, however, who were trying to take advantage of the Food Bank's event on Tuesday, weren't as lucky.

Though it was scheduled to run from 4 to 7 p.m., organizers had to turn people away starting at about 5:30 p.m. after they ran out of food.

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