Lights Come Back On In Texas As South Water Problems Increase

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Many of the millions of Texans who lost power for days after a deadly winter blast tore through the power grid are now getting it back, but the crisis was far from over in parts of the South, and many people lacked security. drinking water.

More than 190,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas according to on Friday morning, up from 3 million two days earlier, although utility officials said limited blackouts were still possible.

The storms also knocked out more than 330,000 from Virginia to Louisiana and about 71,000 in Oregon still suffered a week-long blackout after a massive ice and snow storm.

Snow and ice moved to the Appalachians, northern Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania, and later northeast as extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 58 people, including a Tennessee farmer trying to save two calves that apparently got into a frozen pond and a 17-year-old Oklahoma girl who fell into a frozen pond.

An increasing number of people have died trying to keep warm. In and around the west Texas city of Abilene, authorities said six people died from the cold, including a 60-year-old man who was found dead in his bed in his frigid home. In the Houston area, a family died of carbon monoxide while their car was stopped in their garage.

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Utility companies from Minnesota to Texas used continuous blackouts to relieve strain on the electrical networks. But the remaining Texas outages were mostly weather-related, according to the state’s grid administrator, the Texas Electrical Reliability Council.

Acting Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Bob Fenton said Friday that crews were in Texas with fuel, water, blankets and other supplies.

“My main concern is making sure people stay warm,” Fenton said on “CBS This Morning,” as he urged people without heating to go to a shelter or warming center.

Rotating outages for Texas could return if demand for electricity increases as people regain power and heat, said Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations for the council.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned residents “are not out of the woods,” with temperatures still well below freezing across the state, south central Texas threatened by a winter storm and disruptions to food supply chains.

Adding to the misery: The weather endangered drinking water systems. Authorities ordered 7 million people, a quarter of the population of the country’s second-largest state, to boil tap water before drinking it, following record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and pipes. In Abilene, a man who died at a health facility when lack of water pressure made medical treatment impossible.

Water pressure dropped after lines froze and because many people left taps dripping to prevent pipes from freezing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Abbott urged residents to turn off the water to prevent more broken pipes and preserve pressure from the municipal system.

President Joe Biden said he called Abbott Thursday night and offered additional support from the federal government to state and local agencies.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said residents will likely have to boil tap water in the fourth-largest city in the United States until Sunday or Monday.

Federal emergency officials sent generators to support Texas’ water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, authorities said. The Texas Restaurant Association was coordinating food donations to hospitals.

Two of Houston Methodist community hospitals did not have running water and were still treating patients, but canceled most non-emergency surgeries and procedures for Thursday and possibly Friday, spokeswoman Gale Smith said.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 1,000 Texas public water systems and 177 of the state’s 254 counties had reported weather-related operational outages, affecting more than 14 million people, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Texas.

About 260,000 homes and businesses in Tennessee’s largest county, which includes Memphis, were instructed to boil water after freezing temperatures caused water lines to rupture and pump station problems. Memphis International Airport canceled all inbound and outbound passenger flights on Friday due to water pressure issues.

In Texas, more than 300 flights in and out of Dallas and Houston were canceled Friday, according to Particularly affected was American Airlines, based in Fort Worth.

In Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said most of the city of about 161,000 people was without water Thursday night. The crews were pumping water to refill the city’s tanks, but faced a shortage of chemicals to treat the water, he said.

“We are dealing with an extreme challenge in getting more water through our distribution system,” Lumumba said.

About 85 seniors in a Jackson apartment building lost water service Monday and were reliant on deliveries from a building manager, resident Linda Weathersby said.

Weathersby went out to collect ice cubes to melt so he could flush the toilet and said “my back hurts now.”

Before the winter weather shifted from Texas, the city of Del Rio, along the U.S.-Mexico border, received nearly 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snow on Thursday, beating the record for one day. of snow in the city.


Acacia Coronado is a member of the staff of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on uncovered topics.


Associated Press reporters Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan contributed.


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