Power restored to many in Texas, but millions still without water
Galveston – Hundreds of thousands of homes in Texas are coping without heat for a fourth day on Thursday after utilities made some progress restoring electricity, as criticism mounted over how the state’s political leaders have handled the brutal winter storm.
The crisis facing the country’s second-largest state was set to continue, with millions of people still without access to water, many struggling to find food, and freezing temperatures expected to last through Saturday.
Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, said that the number of homes without power in her county had fallen to 46 000 from nearly a million the previous night. She warned of challenges ahead.
“The water and food impacts of the winter weather continue, and there will be a hard freeze tonight, which could cause additional impacts to infrastructure,” Hidalgo wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “We still have work to do.”
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a cooperative responsible for 90 per cent of the state’s electricity, said on Thursday it made “significant progress” in restoring power to a majority of homes. It did not provide detailed figures.
At present some 490 000 Texas households were without power, down from around 2.7 million on Wednesday, according to poweroutage.us, a website that tracks outages.
Angry residents have trained much of their ire on ERCOT, which critics say did not heed warnings after a cold-weather meltdown in 2011 to ensure that Texas’ energy infrastructure, which relies primarily on natural gas, was winterised.
Critics have also raised questions about the leadership of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has called for an investigation of ERCOT. US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has also come under fire after Fox News reported on Thursday that he flew to the Mexican resort city of Cancun with his family, despite the storm’s fallout. Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Gary Southern, a 68-year-old real estate broker from Mineral Wells, Texas, said his power was restored on Wednesday afternoon, enabling him to have his first solid night of sleep since he lost electricity in the early hours of Monday. (Reuters)