News ID: 280870
Published: 0355 GMT February 19, 2021

Water, heat failure persist in Texas amid extreme cold

Water, heat failure persist in Texas amid extreme cold
People wait in line to fill propane tanks in Houston on Feb. 17, 2021.

While power has been restored to millions of customers in Texas and warmer temperatures are coming, hundreds of thousands of people are still without electricity and many institutions across the state continue to deal with water and heat failure after the historic Arctic outbreak.

The two major winter storms have killed at least 47 people since Sunday — including 30 in Texas — according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

Officials say they suspect many more people have died, but their bodies have not yet been discovered.

All power plants in the state were once again functioning, but about 280,000 homes were still without power early Friday while 13 million people – nearly half of all Texans – have seen water services disrupted.

Ice that downed power lines during the week and other issues have linesman scrambling to hook all homes back up to power, while the state’s powerful oil and gas sector has looked for ways to renew production, Reuters reported.

Hospitals in some hard-hit areas ran out of water and transferred patients elsewhere, while millions of people were ordered to boil water to make it safe for drinking. Water-treatment plants were knocked offline this week, potentially allowing harmful bacteria to proliferate.

Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, said she was pleased with progress, but warned residents to brace for more hardship.

“The grid is still fragile,” she said, noting that cold weather would remain in the area for a few days, which would “put pressure on these power plants that have just come back on.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that all power-generating plants in the state were online as of Thursday afternoon. He urged lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure the energy grid was prepared for cold weather in the future.

“What happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” Abbott told an afternoon news conference.

The governor lashed out at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a cooperative responsible for 90% of the state’s electricity, which he said had told officials before the storm that the grid was prepared for the cold weather.

The lack of power has cut off water supplies for millions, further strained hospitals’ ability to treat patients amid a pandemic, and isolated vulnerable communities, with frozen roads still impassable in parts of the state.



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