Power Outage Tracking Tool: How a Burger App Helped Houstonians Find Electricity During Hurricane Beryl

Houston, Texas – Hurricane Beryl wreaked havoc on Southeast Texas, leaving millions in the Houston area without power. However, technical issues with the city’s main energy provider made it difficult to assess the status of power outages, leaving residents in the dark about where to find essential supplies.

Amidst the chaos, Bryan Norton, a 55-year-old tech worker and podcast host, discovered an unexpected solution through the Whataburger app. The app’s map displayed which of its many restaurants across Houston were still open, inadvertently serving as a tool to determine areas with power still intact or restored.

Norton’s revelation quickly gained popularity after he shared it on social media, with many crediting him for aiding them in checking on loved ones’ power status or finding relief from the scorching heat as temperatures soared.

The unprecedented use of the Whataburger app as a power outage tracker caught the attention of many residents grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl. The reliance on a fast-food app for critical information highlighted the challenges faced by the city’s utility company, CenterPoint Energy, whose power restoration map was unavailable during the crisis.

Residents leveraged the Whataburger app to navigate the widespread power outages, with Norton’s hack spreading rapidly across social media platforms and local community groups. The app’s effectiveness in identifying areas with power drew praise and highlighted the resourcefulness of residents in the face of adversity.

As CenterPoint Energy worked to restore power to over a million customers, the Whataburger app emerged as a valuable tool for residents seeking information on power availability. The app’s unexpected role in the crisis underscored the shortcomings of traditional utility maps and the innovative solutions communities find during emergencies.

Despite the limitations of the app as a precise tracking tool, Whataburger’s president and CEO acknowledged its usefulness in providing a general idea of power availability. The unforeseen reliance on a burger chain for critical information reflected the resilience and adaptability of Houston residents in the face of a natural disaster.

As the city grappled with the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, residents like Carliss Chatman and Michelle Guillot Thibodeaux turned to the Whataburger app for insights on power outages, demonstrating the value of alternative resources during emergencies. The innovative use of the app, dubbed the “Watt-aburger Map,” showcased the community’s ability to adapt and find solutions in times of crisis.