Texas authorities have restored electricity across the state, bringing relief after days of unprecedented freezing temperatures, but millions still struggled without safe, potable water on Saturday.
“Due to blackouts, frozen pipes, and busy periods, the number of systems reporting (water) problems has increased,” Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, told reporters during a televised meeting.
Water problems affected approximately 14.3 million residents out of a total population of approximately 29 million when officials distributed fresh water and food to thousands of people.
Utilities operations had returned to normal, the Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) reported Friday, but more than 50,000 customers were still without power on Saturday while crews were struggling to get down on failed lines, according to the poweroutage.us website repair.
As the heavy storm’s toll became clearer across the South-Central region – approximately 70 deaths were attributed to the cold spell – US President Joe Biden issued a major disaster statement for 77 of the hardest hit counties in Texas.
This statement empowers the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts and expedite relief efforts.
The Texas drama represents Biden’s first major internal crisis. He said he wanted to visit the state early next week but not distract from relief efforts.
– “Not just a problem for Texans” –
A frequent target of Republican criticism, Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was in Texas on Saturday to provide assistance after raising more than $ 3.7 million in just days to aid Texas recovery.
“This is a problem not only for Texans, but also for our entire country,” said the New York congressman in Houston.
Even if the power was back and temperatures rose on Saturday, several cities had to boil water before using it.
Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston – the fourth largest US city – said a message about boiling water could last until Monday.
In many areas, people lined up in front of churches, community centers, or in parking lots – sometimes for hours – waiting to collect bottled water.
“Water distribution and bottled water distribution still seem to be our top priority,” said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, during the television briefing.
“By yesterday evening we had ordered 9.9 million bottles of water through our federal partners … 2.1 million have been distributed so far.”
Kidd said the state orders more than five million ready-made meals even though the weather has hampered their distribution.
The authorities operated more than 300 “heat centers” across the country.
As the cold air moved north and east on Saturday, the Texans finally saw the return of warmer temperatures, ranging from a little over 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) to the high 70s.
With the snow melted and the lights back on, sky-high utility bills should be the next hurdle for many Texans, prompting Governor Greg Abbott to meet with lawmakers on Saturday to discuss how to ensure that the Residents “don’t get unreasonable utility bills that they can’t.” perform because of the temporary massive increase in the energy market, “said an ad at the meeting.
The state is the only one in the continental US that has its own independent power grid, which means it was cut off when the weather broke.
Attorney General Ken Paxton has opened an investigation into how ERCOT and eleven other utility companies “grossly mistreated this week’s extreme winter weather,” he said in a statement.
Some utilities, including wind turbines and natural gas pumps, reportedly hadn’t weathered the equipment.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)