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Houston residents use Whataburger app to track power outages

In the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl’s impact on the Houston area, residents have found an unexpected source of information: the Whataburger mobile app.

Confusion and frustration have mounted over the lack of an accurate power outage map from CenterPoint Energy, the region’s primary electricity provider, as over 2 million homes and businesses remain without power more than 24 hours after the storm.

Since May, the outage map has been either inaccurate or entirely unavailable, leaving residents scrambling for different ways to determine where power has been restored in the city, according to KERA News.

Whataburger, a popular Texas-based fast food chain, has inadvertently become a source of updates for many Houstonians. The Whataburger mobile app’s map feature, typically used to locate nearby Whataburger restaurants, has taken on a new role in the wake of the recent hurricane. Users discovered that the app displays Whataburger locations with an orange “W” symbol for open restaurants and a grey symbol for closed, most often correlating to power outages.

The app’s unintended functionality as a makeshift outage map has garnered widespread attention on social media. Posts praise Whataburger for stepping in where utility companies have dropped the ball.

A post by X user @BBQBryan highlighting the app’s utility went viral overnight.”The Whataburger app works as a power outage tracker, handy since the electric company doesn’t show a map,” the user posted.

Whataburger, which operates 165 locations across the Houston region, has mobilized resources beyond its app, including donating water to local shelters through the American Red Cross. The company also plans to deploy its food truck to provide meals to residents in hardest-hit areas, reported KERA.

Despite its usefulness, Whataburger has cautioned users that the app’s information should be used as a general guide and recommends contacting local stores directly to confirm their operational status.

“Keep in mind, the app should only be used as a general idea of power availability. We encourage residents to call local units to see if they are open and operating,” said Ed Nelson, CEO of Whataburger, in a recent statement, per KERA.

“Whataburger is that friend by your side in good times and bad, we’re glad the Whataburger app has been helpful to Houston residents to understand where power is available in the city,” Nelson added.

Meanwhile, frustrations continue to mount over CenterPoint’s outage map outage, with many residents expressing disbelief that a critical resource remains unavailable during such a crucial time.

The Category 1 hurricane has battered South Texas with strong winds and heavy rains. The hurricane has claimed at least seven lives and left a trail of destruction, with 1.8 million residents currently without power in Houston.

The City of Houston is now facing additional post-hurricane recovery challenges due to a surging heat wave that recently hit Texas.

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