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Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Gov. Greg Abbott Doesn’t Know When Suffering Texans Will Have Water Or Power Again

Snowy intramural fields in the North Loop neighborhood of Austin.
Julia Reihs
Snowy intramural fields in the North Loop neighborhood of Austin.

As millions of Texans continue struggling through a dayslong winter storm without power or potable water, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday provided little details on when they can expect their situations to improve.

In Abbott’s first press conference since winter weather battered the state’s power infrastructure, the governor and other state officials largely deferred residents to state and local non-emergency numbers.

Abbott said he had ordered natural gas producers in Texas to stop selling fuel outside of the state and to instead sell it to the state’s power generators in an attempt to help restore electricity to millions of residents still without it. Abbott also said more power is being brought online to get people’s electricity back. When asked which areas should expect restored power or when that may happen, the governor said he did not know.

“That is information that has not been provided to me,” he said.

Officials also said there were more than 300 warming centers currently operating across the state that were being run mainly by local governments, and that they were working to add additional sites as needed. Officials suggested people living in cities call 311 if they need help locating warming centers and residents in rural areas to call 211 for assistance. They also referred residents with internet access to

Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, listed a litany of agencies that are providing several types of aid throughout the state. But he noted that icy roads continue to hamper government entities’ ability to get water, food and other supplies to people. Kidd did not provide details on what areas those are.

“There are some places that the roads are so bad that we can’t get to them,” he said.

Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said 7 million Texans are currently living under boil-water notices — and that number is expected to increase.

“It is an ongoing issue and this number is probably going to grow over the next day or two,” he said.

Abbott also said he planned to ease licensing regulations for plumbers in an effort to meet an expected spike in demand for water pipes damaged by the frigid temperatures and suggested residents start lining up plumbers as soon as possible. He also told residents to work with their insurance companies on any damages from broken water pipes.

“This is a once-in-every-120-year cold front that we have to respond to,” Abbott said.


From The Texas Tribune

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