US Millions in Texas scramble for drinking water after devastating winter storm
Fire in remote Alaska village leaves COVID-19-racked residents without safe drinking water
Already racked by COVID-19, remote villagers in Tuluksak, Alaska, have been living on donated water since losing their sole supply in a Jan. 16 fire.“The washeteria is on fire!” he burst out when his sister’s door opened.
A historic winter storm that knocked out power and froze pipes across Texas has left many families scrambling for
More than 1,100 public water supply systems reported weather-related disruptions in service on Friday morning, impacting over 14.4 million people, about half of the state's population. Many of those affected remain under adue to concerns about potential contamination, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Water treatment plants across Texas have suffered power outages since a storm swept in earlier this week, blanketing the Lone Star State in snow and ice. Boil-water advisories remain in effect for most of the state's major cities, including Austin, Arlington, Galveston, Houston, San Antonio and parts of Forth Worth.
Texas hospitals are running out of water. Some facilities are now evacuating patients for their safety.
As millions of Texans remain without power, hospitals throughout the state have lost water and heat, leaving doctors scrambling to conserve resources and care for vulnerable residents. That dire scene captured a growing crisis for hospitals in the state. As millions of Texans remain without power for what could be days, hospitals throughout Texas have now lost water and heat, leaving doctors scrambling to conserve resources and coronavirus vaccine shots while caring for vulnerable residents.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who said a pipe burst in his own home, has warned residents to be prepared to boil their water -- if they have any -- before consumption or use until at least Sunday or Monday.
Many people still don't have water or lack power to boil it. There were 189,865 customersin Texas on Friday morning, down from a peak of over 4.4 million on Monday, according to data collected by PowerOutage.US.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas, which regulates the state's electric, water and telecommunication utilities, issued an order on Wednesday evening, mandating that all electric transmission and distribution utilities perform rolling blackouts so that no customer is without power for more than 12 hours.
Water an Ongoing 'Challenge' as 13 Million Texans Under Boil Water Order, Officials Say
State officials said they requested the EPA provide two mobile labs to assist with water sample testing.While power was restored to an estimated 2 million Texans by Thursday, Chief W. Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management said water "will continue to be a challenge" due to frozen and broken water lines across Texas. The outages are not just affecting the drinking water that flows to residential customers but are also impacting the organizations and businesses that rely on institutional water, he said.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the nonprofit corporation responsible for managing 90% of the state's electricity, said it expects to come out of emergency conditions later Friday morning. ERCOT president and CEO Bill Magness admitted during a press briefing Thursday that the Texas power grid was just "seconds or minutes" away from a complete and catastrophic failure, as power demand increased and generators fell offline on Sunday night amid the snowstorm. Magness said it could have taken months to restore.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lambasted ERCOT for its handling of this week's storm and urged lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure the grid would be better prepared in the future.
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“What happened is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” Abbott said at a press conference Thursday. "Texans deserve answers about why these shortfalls occurred and how they will be corrected"
The extended power outages combined withcaused freezing pipes to burst across Texas, plummeting pressure and depleting reserves. Residents, businesses and are being asked to conserve water as cities race to restore and stabilize their water supply.
Two C-17 military transport aircraft are heading to Galveston and Corpus Christi to deliver water and other supplies, likely on Friday, a senior U.S. defense official told ABC News. The help comes at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency following a plea from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. There are currently no plans to use federal troops for ground-based support in Texas, though FEMA will be sending non-military personnel, the official said.
Bitter Texas freeze hits most vulnerable hardest
The winter weather across Texas has devastated the communities most vulnerable, as people grapple with the challenges of COVID-19 and historic freezing temperatures. After living this way on and off for nearly 20 years, she figured the hand-spun yarn blankets she makes would offer enough warmth through Texas' mostly mild winter.
The Texas National Guard remains active across the state, helping local authoriies get citizens to warm shelters and provide other life-saving assistance.
Meanwhile, crews worked throughout the night on Thursday to set up a mass bottled water distribution site at Houston's Delmar Stadium. The site was expected to begin distribution on Friday at 11:30 a.m. local time.
In Galveston, a line of cars wrapped around city blocks on Wednesday evening as people waited to collect free water bottles at a distribution site. Much of the island city is still without water or under a boil-water advisory.
Gas stations were also packed with cars this week, as people fear running out of fuel for their vehicles or generators. One resident, Robert Neuman, toldthat he has already made multiple trips, admitting he "wasn't prepared" for the storm.
"Like everyone, we figured it would get cold and maybe a little outage and that's it," Neuman said. "But we've been going since Sunday like this."
ABC News' Jenna Harrison, Will McDuffie, Matt Seyler and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.
Biden, first lady tour storm-ravaged Texas amid state's reckoning .
The Bidens spent the afternoon meeting state and local leaders and touring storm damage“When a crisis hits our states, it’s not a Republican or Democrat who’s hurting. It’s a fellow American who’s hurting,” Biden said as he concluded his trip at a federal COVID-19 vaccination site in Houston. “My prayers are with you in the aftermath of the storm.... We will be true partners to help you cover the bill for the storm and this pandemic.