‘A Humanitarian Crisis’ in Texas: Cold & Snow Put Millions in Danger, 38 Dead


Texas’s freeze entered a sixth day on Thursday. At least 31 people have died as of Wednesday afternoon as a result of the severe weather in Texas. But some media reports said, days of glacial weather have left at least 38 people dead in the U.S.

The snow made many roads impassable, disrupted coronavirus vaccine distribution and blanketed nearly three-quarters of the continental U.S. And that number is expected to climb with no end to the Texas nightmare in sight.

Media reports from the U.S. said:

More than 3 million Texans were without power. But some media reports put the number to more than 4 millions. Some have gone four days without electricity after a rare winter storm slammed the U.S. state and created bitterly cold and unlivable conditions. All of the water pipes in many homes are frozen.

Many Texans are fearful for what the near future looks like, some elected officials appear to care less.

Twitter blew up Thursday morning with accusations that Republican Sen. Ted Cuz and his family flew to Cancun to stay at a resort, and Associated Press later confirmed the news.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Texans don’t know when they will get their lights back on or access to running water.

Additionally, on social media, viral videos show apartment complex pools frozen over, water rushing into homes from burst pipes, long lines for grocery stores and cars idling in the streets, unable to get to their destinations.

Power grid operators in Texas say they cannot predict when the outages might end, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the agency that oversees the grid.

In an effort to avoid a total blackout, ERCOT is instructing utility companies to cut power to customers.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said.

Local and federal leaders have left many Texans confused and frustrated with their reluctance to take responsibility for the crisis.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, blamed ERCOT on Tuesday, saying the utility “has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours.”

He then appeared on cable news that evening to argue that the fiasco is due to green energy, specifically frozen wind turbines.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said to Fox News host Sean Hannity. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. … It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The power grid in Texas is unique in that it does not cross state lines and therefore is not under the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the early 2000s, Republican leaders in the state pushed to deregulate the state’s power market and allow power companies to determine when and how to build and maintain power plants. Now this setup and its flaws are coming back to haunt the state.

The mayor of the west Texas town of Colorado City recently resigned from backlash after saying it was not the government’s responsibility to help those suffering.

“No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this!” Tim Boyd wrote on Facebook, based on screenshots from local CBS affiliate KTAB. “Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!”

For residents going through the blackouts and below freezing temperatures in their homes, the pointing of fingers from elected officials is doing nothing for them in their most desperate time of need.

Thomas Black, 29, from Dallas, posted images of the devastation on his Twitter page that have now gone viral. In one photo he took in the hallway of his apartment complex, 4-foot icicles hang from an indoor ceiling fan.

“Texans just aren’t used to this sort of thing, so of course there’s going to be panic just like there was at the beginning of COVID,” Black told. “If you go to the grocery store right now, the entire meat section is gone, the whole entire produce section has gone. I’m sure a lot of the nonperishables are gone at this point, and I’m sure the toilet paper’s gone again.”

“The leadership has failed us on all fronts,” he added. “It certainly is worrisome.”

“We are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and it’s going to take people stepping up from our leadership team to really make a difference in what the future looks like for us,” he said.

Erica Gittens of San Marcus has been couch surfing since Sunday, when water came rushing into her apartment while she was talking to her roommate.

“We first thought like, maybe it was the air conditioning starting up,” Gittens said. “And then it’s like, ‘psych, no it’s waterfall.’ Our ceiling started to cave in on us.”

Gittens, who has apartment insurance, says she is unable to get the immediate help she needs because her apartment complex’s corporate office also flooded and the insurance company cannot send or receive the documents that they need. She started a GoFundMe campaign to help stay afloat in the meantime and said, “It’s going to be weeks” before anything begins to work itself out. For now, she has to depend on friends and strangers.

Gittens says that despite her unfortunate situation, there are others who are doing much worse.

“People may have machines that they have to be hooked up to at night,” she said. “I’m thinking about my residents and how some places may not even be able to have generators due to the freezing. You never know what may happen.”

“This isn’t something that we’re used to. … We just need to pray for Texas as a whole,” she said.

Water Crisis Deepens Misery

Amid widespread power losses, millions of Texans were also advised to boil their water for safety.

The power crisis spurred by the massive winter storm hobbling Texas has also become a water crisis, with hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses dealing with burst pipes or ordered to boil water, as water utilities suffer from frozen wells and treatment plants run on backup power.



Author: John C Carleton

Native Texican, American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God.

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