I share the frustration of all Texans with the loss of electricity during this winter storm. Millions of people without power during this Arctic storm are in mortal danger and that is unacceptable, said Lieutenant Dan Patrick.
The Texan has seen some unusual things this week: The snow and ice from the storms made for an unusually harsh winter across most of the United States. Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing until Friday, and officials wonder how residents will manage without weather-damaged utilities.
When asked if the leadership of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s electric utility, should step down, Governor Greg Abbott responded that the company had failed.
They have proven to be unreliable, Abbott said. They are the experts. They’re engineers from the electrical industry. The government should appeal to these professionals to help in such situations.
Bill Magness, CEO of ERCOT, defended the controlled shutdowns, saying they saved the state from a total blackout.
In the meantime, many Texans are pinning their hopes on emergency generators and central heating.
The City of Waco has provided 15 hotel rooms for six days.
It’s not a permanent solution, but it prevents vulnerable people from taking shelter in sub-zero temperatures, Mayor Dillon Meek said.
Storm without electricity or water
ERCOT said Tuesday it was optimistic about restoring electricity, but Judge Lena Hidalgo of Harris County accused the company of overestimating its forecast.
In the end, we’ll have a long night tonight, Mr. Hidalgo said.
Austin Energy informed residents Tuesday that electricity may not be restored until Tuesday evening or even longer.
All of our teams are ready to restore power to the affected people as soon as we get permission from ERCOT. We understand the challenges and we understand why customers are frustrated, EI said.
Power outages and the failure of emergency generators also reduce water availability. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told CNN Tuesday night that she has been without power and water for about 38 hours.
If people have neighbors that they know don’t have heat, or maybe they do have heat, (then) offer to take them in. Let’s take care of each other. Let’s try to do the right thing by helping, by sharing what we have, the mayor said.
According to Galveston, most residents have little or no water pressure due to breaks and failures in the water supply, and the city’s water supply is at a critical level.
Houston said he was fighting for water early Wednesday.
The city is working hard to maintain water pressure, but it’s getting harder. There are two requests: Please do not let the water flow to prevent the pipes from freezing and shut off the water if the pipes burst, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a tweet late Tuesday night.
Carbon monoxide poisoning calls
Emergency services were flooded with calls, and San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told CNN the situation would worsen Tuesday night.
Hood says we will see more rain and snow tonight. Tonight may be the worst night in terms of temperature.
To stay warm, many people turn to unconventional heat sources such as stoves, grills or gas generators, which pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas. This can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.
In Harris County, 14 residents were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning, including seven children, according to a tweet from Cy-Fair firefighters.
The Houston Fire Department has responded to 56 fire calls and more than 90 calls for carbon monoxide poisoning, Chief Samuel Peña said at a news conference.
It’s important to understand the dangers of using open flames in your homes to try to heat them, Peña said.
Houston officials said Tuesday that a woman and a girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to stay warm in a car in a garage.
Joe Sutton, Dave Alsup, Andy Rose, Gregory Lemos, Keith Allen, Jessica Myers and Karma Hassan of CNN contributed to this report.