US Texas storm recovery: Some Texans still don't have water while others must change electric providers while others
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.
For many Texans, basic necessities like clean running water and a stable electricity provider may seem like a pipe dream right now.
It's been a week since, knocking out power and water and .
Winter storms devastate US after a year of Covid lockdown -- and it's nowhere near over
There is no fine time for a devastating barrage of winter storms, but it's hard to imagine the weather icing over much of the United States coming at a less opportune moment. © THOMAS SHEA/AFP/Getty Images Customers wait in line to enter Frontier Fiesta on February 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas. - A winter storm has caused rolling black-outs through out the Houston and the surrounding areas for the past 48 hours.
At least 29 Texans were killed during the storm. That's more than half of the 56 weather-related deaths nationally.
While most Texas now have power, some of their electric providers will no longer be available.
And more than 8.6 million people have water disruptions, including warnings to boil water before using it or having no running water at all.
Sky-high electric bills
The frigid weather caused power use to skyrocket and forced several retail electric providers to leave the market, said Andrew Barlow, spokesperson for the Public Utilities Commission.
It's not clear how many customers will need to move to new power companies. But across Texas, skyrocketing energy costs have led to astronomical electric bills.
Susan Hosford of Denison typically pays her provider, Griddy, $2.50 on a typical February day,reported.
Texas, the go-it-alone state, is rattled by the failure to keep the lights on
Political leaders in Texas prize what they see as the state’s self-reliance, its go-it-alone ethos, and its cheap power – all of which they regard as related. As the country and the world stand on the verge of a revolution in distribution of electricity, driven by artificial intelligence and the coming surge of electric vehicles, Texas is proud of having its own energy grid, with only minor connections to the rest of the country. And they argue that the state’s aggressive deregulation of the grid — which some link to this week’s failures — has brought inexpensive electricity to the state’s residents and businesses.
After the first two weeks of February, she was automatically charged $1,346.17 -- which was more than she had in her checking account.
"This whole thing has been a nightmare," she told KPRC.
Hosford told the station she chose to pay wholesale for power, an option in which prices fluctuate based on demand. But those prices soared when the temperature hit record lows and power sources were damaged.
DeAndrew Upshaw said he was charged $6,700 for power to his 900-square-foot townhome, and some of his friends can't pay their rent due to automatic power bill payments.
Texas' utility regulator, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said Saturday it was investigating "the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes."
Video: Whose fault is the Texas power disaster? (CNN)
Federal, state and some local assistance
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approvedto be added to the President's .
Millions in Texas scramble for drinking water after devastating winter storm
A historic winter storm that knocked out power and froze pipes across Texas has left many families scrambling for safe drinking water. 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 a boil-water advisory due to concerns about potential contamination, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Abbott requested individual assistance for all 254 counties, but the White House approved 77 for a Major Disaster Declaration on Saturday, withfor all counties.
He said the state Public Utility Commission issued a moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment.
"Texans who have suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills due to a spike in the energy market," Abbott said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a relief fund Monday for Houston and Harris County residents to help cover costs that the federal and state governments won't pick up.
The fund will support individuals as well as nonprofits that help with home repairs and temporary housing, he said.
"We don't want you to feel as though that you're in it all by yourself," Turner said.
"Recognizing that there are many families who are in situations where they don't have insurance, they don't have the financial means to make the repairs ... their ceilings have fallen in, and furniture and other things have been damaged, and they're really stressing out in terms of how do we move forward ... we're working to put together a fund, a relief fund to assist people."
Texas Pays the Price of the Culture War
Instead of focusing on governance, Republican politicians in the Lone Star State spent their time inflaming grievances.We were among the millions of Texans who lost power when a massive winter storm brought the temperature down to the single digits. In Houston, a woman and child accidentally suffocated themselves with carbon monoxide trying to stay warm in their car. Two people in Austin died in a fire that likely resulted from an attempt to stay warm. Here in San Antonio, a man in his 70s was found dead, apparently from exposure.
1/3 of Texans are having water problems
As relief efforts ramp up, many in the state are still struggling to supply their homes with water.
About 8.6 million people who were still having water disruptions Monday evening, said Gary Rasp, media specialist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. That's about a third of the state's population.
Across the state, more than 1,200 public water systems have faced disruptions, Rasp said. Systems serving just under 120,000 people were still not providing service.
A week after the storm, some water systems are starting to recover. About 326 boil water notices had been dropped by Monday evening, Rasp said. Galveston and Houston lifted boil water advisories Sunday.
Houston officials advised customers to run cold-water faucets for at least a minute; dump out several batches of ice from automatic ice makers; and run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.
Monday morning, saying the water is now safe for downtown, the University of Texas, Dell Seton Medical Center and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Austin Water spokesperson Randi Jenkins told CNN water use jumped 250% because of water lost to dropping faucets and broken pipes from the freeze.
Document the damage, leaders say
For residents facing long-term damage, the state plans to bring in plumbers to help fix broken pipes, Abbott said. He urged residents to reach out to their insurance agents.
Those without insurance may qualify for FEMA reimbursement, he said. They will need to be able to document any loss they have.
Residents should also contact their local emergency response coordinator to receive a reimbursement, he said.
Turner, the Houston mayor, also urged residents to document damage in their homes in case they can be reimbursed.
"Use your video, take pictures," he said.
How coronavirus stimulus funds helped one state create a 'broadband miracle' .
Mississippi could become a broadband giant.They went to rural electric co-ops -- private, independent electric utilities owned by the members they serve -- many of which were left gobsmacked by the offer, according to David O'Bryan, general manager of Delta Electric Power Association, which now serves Carroll and Grenada counties with broadband. Many of these co-ops had been preparing to deploy networks but lacked the cash to begin a major project, especially in the most remote and sparsely populated parts of their territories.