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MAP: Facilities For Older, Disabled Texans Faced Storm-Related Problems

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

During the President’s Day storm that blew across Texas, much attention was paid to the power outages that hit homeowners, renters and businesses across the state. At its peak, what some refer to now as Winter Storm Uri left some 4.5 million Texans without electricity and heat as temperatures dropped to the teens and below. Some Texans were without power for as long as three days.

And the resulting electric outages contributed to water service disruptions for 12 million Texans.

That same week, 996 facilities for older and intellectually disabled Texans reported weather-related problems, according to records released to Texas Standard by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. There are a total of 4,046 facilities across Texas.

In the first few days of the storm, roughly 176 residents overall had to be transported to another facility. It is not clear if the storm caused any deaths of those in nursing homes and other facilities.

As of Feb. 19, three days after the storm blanketed the state with snow and ice, nearly half of those facilities – 491 – that were impacted by the weather, were nursing homes. That number represents 40% of the nursing homes operating in Texas.

Another 185 facilities reporting problems including power outages or roofing problems because of the weather were classified as “assisted living.” And another 180 facilities impacted by the storm served those with intellectual disabilities.

Texas requires nursing home facilities to provide an emergency generator to keep “life support” systems running during an outage. They are also required to have emergency electrical power to light all exits, fire detection and extinguishing systems if electricity is disrupted, but battery power can be used for non-life support systems.

HHSC contacted facilities during the storm, and those with power disruptions were referred immediately to local emergency management officials.

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Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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