Texas continues to shiver amid power outage, more than 20 deaths reported

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 18, 2021, 08.36 AM(IST)

Residents help a pickup driver get out of ice on the road in Round Rock, Texas, on February 17, 2021, after a winter storm. Millions of people were still without power on Wednesday in Texas, the oil and gas capital of the United States, and facing water shortages as an unusual winter storm pummeled the southeastern part of country Photograph:( AFP )

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Amid the power outage, USA's National Weather Service (NWS) issued winter warning for areas from east Texas to the East Coast state of Maryland

Millions of people in Texas continued to shiver in cold as they were forced to spend winter days with no electricity. The oil and gas capital of the US is witnessing unusual winter storm that pummeled southeastern part of the country. USA's National Weather Service (NWS) issued winter warning for areas from east Texas to the East Coast state of Maryland.

The NWS said the storm would bring ice, sleet and heavy snow to parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi as it tracks to the northeast, causing power outages, tree damage and making driving hazardous. 

Even though the Arctic air mass was beginning to lose its grip on an area of the country not used to such extreme cold, the frigid temperatures would continue, the NWS said.

"The Arctic air will also continue over the Plains and Mississippi Valley with temperatures of 25 to 40 degrees below average," the NWS reported Wednesday afternoon.

 

Storm claims lives

More than 30 storm-related deaths have been reported by media in the United States since the cold weather arrived last week, many in traffic accidents.

A man in Louisiana died when he hit his head after slipping on ice, and a 10-year-old Tennessee boy perished after he and his six-year-old sister fell through the ice into a pond Sunday.

A dozen animals -- including one 58-year-old female chimpanzee -- died during the freeze at rescue sanctuary Primarily Primates near San Antonio, the organization said on its website Wednesday.

The winter storm spawned at least four tornadoes, according to Atlanta-based weather.com, including one in North Carolina on Monday that killed at least three people and injured 10.

Across the southern border, Mexican officials said six people died after temperatures plunged.

Water shortage

Hundreds of thousands of residents of the Texas metropolis of Houston are suffering from both power outages and a loss of water pressure.

"Water pressure is very low," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted. "Please do not run water to keep pipes from bursting."

Several Texas cities advised residents to boil their water before drinking it or using it for cooking.

David Hernandez, 38, spent the night at a Houston church with other people who have fled their homes.

"My car got stranded and I was trying to sleep in the car but it was just too cold," Hernandez said. "Liquids in my car were actually turning to ice so it was like sleeping in an ice box.

"I had to come here," he said. "There's no choice."

Power companies in Texas have implemented rolling blackouts to avoid grids being overloaded as residents crank up the heat.

According to PowerOutage.US, about 2.4 million customers were still without power by Wednesday evening in Texas, the only one of the US's 48 continental states to have its own independent power grid.

'Nearly a failed state'

Beto O'Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate from Texas, told MSNBC television the situation in the Lone Star State was "worse than you are hearing."

"Folks have gone days now without electricity. They're suffering," he said.

"So much of this was avoidable," O'Rourke added. 

"The energy capital of North America cannot provide the energy needed to warm and power people's homes in this great state. We are nearing a failed state in Texas."

Austin Energy, the local power company in the capital city of 950,000, said tens of thousands of area customers were without electricity, but that they were able to start restoring power in some spots. 

"However, this power will NOT stay on indefinitely due to anticipated grid conditions continuing," the company's Twitter account said Wednesday afternoon, warning of future rotating outages. 

The energy company published the locations of "warming centers" set up in local schools.

(With AFP inputs)

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