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Houston – The winter weather emergency in Texas and much of the Southern Empire, millions of people facing another night in the dark with no heat and no clean water. This relentless winter explosion is responsible for at least 24 deaths this week. A third of Americans are on the way to a second winter storm, with snow and ice heading towards the East Coast.

Families in Houston and across Texas go out of their way to stay warm, sometimes making deadly choices. 911 calls are in place throughout Texas. Hospitals have treated hundreds of people for cold exposure and carbon monoxide poisoning as Texans turn on generators and stay in their cars to warm up.

Frustration boils over as utilities scramble to try to restore power. As officials point the finger, one thing is clear: Texas has not stood up to the elements for many of its power generation facilities or pipelines, although it has been hit by a similar freeze it about ten years ago.

More than 2.5 million are in the dark without heat for a third day. Frozen pipes burst, flooding homes and businesses. An apartment building in Dallas had ice cubes inside. So many pipes have now burst, the governor of Texas is seeking help from out-of-state plumbers as many counties warn their water could be contaminated and must be boiled.

Frigid temperatures devastate Texas power grid as death toll rises
People line up to fill propane tanks on February 17, 2021 in Houston.

David J. Phillip / AP


Steven and Laura Dandrige told CBS News they would never have expected these conditions in the Lone Star State. They have lived in darkness and cold for most of the past three days with their one-year-old son, Bobby.

A boil water order has been issued for all of Houston and dozens of cities. However, in hard-hit areas there is no water to boil because the taps are dry. Almost half of the state’s 254 counties have water-related problems.

Harris County Judge Lena Hidalgo compared him to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “It’s very different from Harvey, but the scope of the impact is absolutely equal and it’s something that affects not only the millions of people here in Harris County, but all over Texas,” he said. declared Hidalgo.


The south is preparing for a colder temperature …

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Desperate to stay warm, hundreds of people have been taken to hospitals with carbon monoxide poisoning, sometimes caused by putting a grill inside or keeping a car in a garage.

Three children and their grandmother died in a house fire, which authorities said had used a fireplace overnight.

In the search for food, there were queues to enter grocery stores that had empty shelves. There was even a race for gasoline.

Questions continue to mount as to whether ERCOT – the utility that oversees the Texas grid – was ready.

“I’m sure that as we look at this, when it’s over, we’re going to find things that we wish we had done better,” said ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. “Right now, the number one priority is to restore power to people, to restore this service.”

But that doesn’t happen quickly, and local officials warn the blackouts could last all weekend.

Texas has never had a statewide contingency plan under a winter storm warning. The Texas Agriculture Commissioner issued a red alert on Wednesday saying grocery store shelves were empty and they were looking at a food supply chain problem like they had never seen before.


Texas governor plans to restore power

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Governor Greg Abbott Wednesday detailed his plans to restore electricity to millions of people. He said nearly 40,000 megawatts of electricity remained offline, due to mechanical issues, lack of gas and weather issues. But he said that as of midnight, 6,000 megawatts – enough to provide electricity to about 1.2 million homes were added to the grid.

The governor also announced that he had signed an order that will prevent companies from selling natural gas outside the state and instead require the fuel to be sold to state power producers.

Meanwhile, the CDC warns that the winter storm means a COVID vaccine delays – as vaccinations accelerated. Deliveries are up to 48 hours late. In Texas, only 9% of those doses the state expected this week were shipped. Moderna Inc. was unable to ship any doses to Texas due to the storm.

Mola Lenghi contributed to this report.

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