Warmer temperatures over the weekend and continuing this week melted most of the snow from the state’s roadways and roofs. But Texans are still dealing with broken pipes that flooded homes and businesses, damaged municipal water systems, and continued power outages in scattered areas, mainly in East and Central Texas.
At the height of the power crisis, more than 4 million Texans were without electrical service — a number that shrank to less than 32,000 as of Sunday, according to the PowerOutage.Us website.
As of last weekend, more than half the state’s population had some type of disruption in their water service, from having no water to low pressure, which made it necessary to boil water before safely using it for drinking, cooking or bathing. Tiffany Young, spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, reported Friday that more than 1,300 water supply systems and 62% of Texas counties were affected.
Federal disaster declaration partially granted
Gov. Greg Abbott’s request for a federal disaster declaration was partially granted on Saturday. President Joe Biden granted the request for individual assistance in 77 Texas counties (https://tinyurl.com/3doyhwnt). Individuals and business owners in counties included in the federal disaster declaration can begin applying for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585. Biden had previously issued a state of emergency for all of Texas, allowing FEMA to go into action.
State’s power grid ‘minutes’ from failing; Abbott urges legislative action
As electricity demand overwhelmed capacity last week during the height of the storm, the chief of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid for most of the state, told the media that the grid came close to having a catastrophic failure that could have taken months to repair. Grid operators began rolling blackouts to cut demand. “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.”
Abbott last Tuesday added reform of ERCOT as an emergency item this legislative session, calling the organization “anything but reliable.” Also, Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued civil investigative demands to ERCOT and 11 power companies demanding documents and data related to the power outages, emergency plans, energy pricing and other items related to the winter storm power failures. Paxton said in a press release that ERCOT and other entities “grossly mishandled” last week’s winter disaster.
Abbott met with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and eight members of the Legislature on Saturday to discuss how to address the spike in energy bills affecting many Texans…