July 23, 2008 / 8:14 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 2-Dolly power outages jump to 122,800

(Updates number of outages)

HOUSTON, July 23 (Reuters) - Hurricane Dolly left more than 122,800 electric customers without power in South Texas Wednesday evening after the storm made landfall in South Texas.

Power outages began early in the day as bands of high wind and rain lashed the coastline and Dolly strengthened to winds of 100 mph (160 kph) before crossing onto land near Padre Island, near the U.S.-Mexico border, said American Electric Power Co, (AEP.N) the largest power delivery company in the Rio Grande Valley.

AEP’s Texas utility reported 122,875 outages in five counties, with the highest number seen in Cameron County at the tip of Texas, where 68,000 customers, or 85 percent of total customers, lost power, according to a report at 5:42 p.m. CDT (2242 GMT).

Outages increased as the day wore on and may rise further as the storm moves inland.

“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 vice president of distribution operations.

“As we learn more about the extent of the damage, as well as our expectations on the time needed to restore service, we will communicate that information as quickly as possible.” Gordon said in a statement.

AEP also reported outages in nearby Hidalgo, Willacy and San Patricio counties and near Corpus Christi in Nueces County.

Arrangements were made a day earlier for as many as 1,350 additional contractors to arrive after the storm to trim trees and restore power, AEP said.

Assessment and restoration work can begin when high wind from the storm subsides, officials said.

In addition to high wind snapping trees and power lines, flooding is a concern, said AEP spokesman Larry Jones. “Flooding can contribute to outages and hamper repair work,” he said. (Reporting by Eileen O’Grady; editing by Marguerita Choy)

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