Written by Lucas Murawsky (News Writer)
As multiple winter storms slam the eastern United States, Texas has been by far hit the hardest, with power outages, well below freezing temperatures, unhealthy water, and very difficult travel conditions. In the past week, Texas has had more than 4 million power outages and over 13 million boil water alerts for the state.
The state of Texas has been breaking records for snowfall and temperatures, as a winter blast pushes through the area. Abilene, TX received a total of 14.8 inches of snow during this storm. This shatters the previous record of 2.5 inches that fell in 1951. San Angelo, TX saw the coldest high temperature recorded during this storm also. The record they broke was 38 set back in 2007. The high on Monday was 18 for San Angelo.
With this harsh weather, the Texas power grid has been stretched thin due to the high power demand. The Texas power grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which means it can’t get help from neighboring states. Due to the high power demand, ERCOT was having to do power shutoffs to take the stress off the grid, and many people are very frustrated. One mother of an 11-year-old who passed away during the rolling blackouts is now suing the company. “This young boy first saw snow on Monday, and he died on Tuesday,” Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing Cristian’s mother. “The misinformation is probably what makes people the maddest, and certainly makes me very angry, because we were lied to about, you know, we’re gonna have rolling blackouts,” Buzbee said. “That wasn’t what happened at all. It was a full-on blackout, with no end in sight.”
Many people were left with no heat during the storm due to power outages, some people were burning their furniture as a source of heat. “We had a call the other day where someone was burning part of their bed frame to stay warm in their home. It’s that bad,” said Capt. Christian Hinojosa, from the Dallas Fire Rescue.
With the freezing temperatures, water treatment plants can’t function, causing unhealthy water for millions of people. Many people are having to wait in multiple hour-long lines to get bottled water, some people are even melting snow to get drinkable water.
This storm devastated not only Texas but other states too, there were about 69 deaths nationwide, and approximately 18 billion dollars in damage. Many fire departments are tripling in calls. Typically, they respond to an average of 800 calls per day. On Monday, it was 1,900 and by Tuesday and Wednesday, they averaged 2,800 calls per day.“We are tired without a doubt. We also all chose this profession,” said Jim McDade, Dallas Firefighters Association president. Firefighters have had no breaks on their shifts, many firefighters had to sleep in the cold, with as many as 15 fire stations that were without power during the storm.
Water service remained disrupted for nearly a third of Texas residents Sunday evening, and lingering power outages from devastating winter weather still exist. The issues are still affecting more than 8.8 million people, spread across 199 counties as of Sunday, February, 21. At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said around 30,000 people remained without power in his state.