Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas is working to bring in more plumbers, help cities test their water

AUSTIN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott said Friday afternoon that the state has four immediate priorities in responding to the crisis caused by this week’s winter storm: restoring power to homes in Texas, restoring water, ensuring Texans get what they need Have food and supplies and oil get refineries in operation.

When it comes to his top priority – power – Abbott said there is no more home downtime due to lack of generation. However, according to the governor, 165,000 households remain without electricity because the lines have failed or the utility has to manually reconnect residents to the system.

Regarding water, Abbott said the state is focusing on speeding up testing for clean water so the water can return to homes as soon as possible. The Texan Environmental Quality Commission will begin operating a telephone bank at 5 p.m., connecting congested local facilities with other laboratories that can test their water faster, Abbott said.

Abbott also pointed out “what could be the biggest challenge Texans face over the next week”: broken water pipes. To that end, the state has been working to increase the number available, and by noon today, over 320 had renewed their license, Abbott told reporters. The State Plumbing Board is also coordinating with non-state corporations to bring more plumbing to Texas.

Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said the state has supplied about 1.7 million bottles of water to Texans – by plane because the roads remain slippery. Deliveries will continue “as long as it takes,” Kidd said.

When it comes to groceries and supplies, Abbott prioritizes transportation by allowing off-road diesel to be used on Texas roads. He also said he was seeking a federal waiver that would allow all types of diesel on the state’s roads.

At the press conference, Abbott continued to blame the state’s electricity grid operator for making misleading assurances that it would be able to handle the winter peak conditions. Hours before Abbott spoke, the Texas Democratic Party held a press conference at which some of the party’s biggest names identified another cause: decades of GOP leadership in Texas.

“None of this had to happen,” said US Representative Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. “The reason it happened is because of this [under] Governor Abbott, the Republican leadership of the state … there was a complete lack of preparation and neglect of the state’s power system. “

United States MP Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, added, “It’s the Republicans to blame. Their lack of control and their diverse approaches to diversifying our energy sector created this crisis.”

The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, impartial media organization that educates and addresses Texans about public policy, politics, government, and the state.

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