Millions in Houston Without Power Courtesy of Ike

HOUSTON (AP) - About 4.5 million people are without power in the Houston area as Hurricane Ike slams the Texas coast.

It will likely be awhile before electricity returns. CenterPoint Energy says it could take weeks before all the power in the nation's fourth-largest city was restored.

Utility spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said 850,000 customers - or 4.5 million people - had lost power by early Saturday. Work crews were coming in Monday to restore power, and priority will be given to hospitals, fire and police departments and water and sewage treatment plants.

The city's last direct hit from a hurricane came from Alicia in 1983, when 750,000 CenterPoint customers lost power. It took 16 days to restore all service.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)