Hurricane Dolly's leading edge attacked the Gulf Coast today near the Texas-Mexico border with heavy rain and powerful winds. The storm has strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane, and the eye of the storm should hit land early in the afternoon. The storm, the second of the Atlantic hurricane season, was centered 30 miles east of Brownsville, Texas, moving northwest at 7 mph. A Category 2 storm is defined as having sustained winds from 96 mph to 110 mph.

AEP Texas crews will be assessing damage incurred as a result of Hurricane Dolly, which is expected to make landfall near Brownsville, Texas, just as soon as the storm passes through the area and it is safe to do so.

As of 8:30 a.m. today, 12,277 customers were without power in the area. It is expected that this number will increase as the storm makes landfall and continues westward.

The AEP Texas Central Emergency Team has been conducting planning meetings throughout the week in anticipation of the hurricane striking the Brownsville area.

Currently, 1,000 line and service technicians, 250 tree trimmers and 100 damage assessors have been called upon from AEP Texas and neighboring utilities to assist with power restoration once the storm leaves the area.

“Right now, it is still too early to estimate the full extent of the damage from the storm or the number of customers without power,” said Harry Gordon, AEP region vice president of distribution systems. “As we learn more about the extent of the damage, as well as our expectations on the time needed to restore service, we will be in communication with that information as quickly as possible to our customers.”

The efforts to assess damage focus on determining 1) the existence and location of hazardous situations 2) the locations of customers without electric service who provide vital community services 3) the extent of the damage and 4) determining crew assignments and the amount of material needed to restore electric service throughout the affected area.