Hurricane season officially begins today, and just as CenterPoint Energy has an Emergency Operations Plan, the company urges customers to have their own emergency plan ready to implement should a hurricane strike, particularly if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment. Customers need to be prepared to be without power for two weeks or possibly longer depending on the severity of the storm.

"Because no two storms are alike, it's not possible to forecast in advance what the exact damage to our electric system could be and how long the outages could last," said Scott Prochazka, division senior vice president of Electric Operations for CenterPoint Energy. "But it's important for customers to be prepared to be without power based on the following guidelines:"

As part of the company's EOP, the company has linemen and tree trimmers from around the country on stand-by ready to help its own field personnel assess damage, clear trees and begin power restoration once the storm passes.

In addition to having employees prepared, CenterPoint Energy has sufficient fuel and supplies in inventory to begin restoration efforts. The company has also made arrangements with its vendors and distributors for its post-storm needs.

In the first few days after a hurricane or major storm, CenterPoint Energy will assess the damage and then will work continuously around the clock until everyone's power is restored. The company's first priority in restoring service is to key facilities vital to safety, health and public welfare, such as hospitals, water treatment plants and public service facilities. Then, it repairs those major lines and circuits that will restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time.