Texans need our help and prayers as millions are without water and thousands still don't have power.
Texas is reeling from a winter storm that led to blackouts while snowfall and record low temperatures are still battering the people. Power has been restored to more than two million homes but there were more households still waiting to get electricity and heating in the extreme weather. Meanwhile, misinformation about the cause of the blackouts has started spreading online. Some people are falsely blaming wind and solar energy, reports CNET.
The drop in temperature is unprecedented and the power grid has not been able to hold up to the demands on it. Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which operates the power grid that covers most of the state, said that the state was "seconds and minutes" away from living in a blackout for months, reports Texas Tribune.
"It needed to be addressed immediately," said Bill Magness, president of ERCOT. "It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system."
After 3.5 days without heat or power in Austin, my kids, husband & I found refuge in a friend's garage apt, where there's heat. We're luckier than many.— Pamela Colloff (@pamelacolloff) February 18, 2021
The suffering here is immense. Food shortages. Unsafe drinking water. Impassable roads. Flooded homes. A humanitarian crisis.
On the morning of February 15, grid operators decided to start rolling blackouts but it ended up lasting for days for millions of residents. The operators could see that an enormous amount of energy supply was dropping off the grid. The extreme cold affected the distribution while demand was also rising, as more and more people started staying inside to avoid the weather.
UPDATE: About 1,600,000 homes have had power restored today.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 18, 2021
Current power generation is restoring an additional 200,000 homes every hour.
Power generators and natural gas pipes froze and even Dallas faced a low temperature of 4°F (-16°C) on February 15, which was the coldest temperature the city has seen since 1989. Usually, temperatures near 60°F are expected this time of the year. The temperature at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport early that day was 17°F (-8°C), which was the coldest temperature there in 32 years, according to NASA.
Now, even though most homes have electricity, people are being asked to boil tap water to drink, reports BBC. More than 13 million people, which is almost half the population of Texas, faced disruption of water services. The City of Houston was told by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to treat even filtered water as if it was contaminated and boil it for drinking purposes and to brush teeth.
The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, asked the residents to buy bottled water if they don't have power and are unable to boil it. "Power will not be restored fully, I would say, probably for another couple of days," he told reporters at a press conference. He also added that Houston police and disaster response teams will be delivering bottled water to those with disabilities who do not have access to transportation.
Texas is now under a state of emergency, as approved by President Joe Biden. “I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in a statement on Sunday, according to the Hill. “This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather."
There are still storm warnings but the temperature is expected to rise in the coming days. More than 40 people have died across several states that are facing the winter storm in the central and southern U.S., according to an Associated Press tally.
The Hill reported that several people in Texas passed away due to exposure and more than one person died due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The deaths from exposure have taken place mostly in Houston. A 9-year-old boy died in Tennessee while being pulled on a sled behind an ATV when he struck a mailbox.
One man was found frozen to death in his recliner at home and his wife was close to death while another man, who was homeless, passed away due to exposure, according to the Independent. Unfortunately, power won't be fully restored until temperatures rise.
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Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Montinique Monroe