Electricity has been restored across Texas and the deep cold of an arctic front is subsiding. But the crisis isn’t over yet as Texans focus on getting water and repairing houses ravaged by exploding pipes.
Employees at a YMCA in northwest Houston open boxes of groceries to give to people in need on Friday, February 19, 2021. (Photo by Courthouse News / Cameron Langford)
HOUSTON (CN) – With the boiling water notices affecting millions of Texans, they flock to giveaways for bottled water and look in vain at hardware stores for supplies to fix their homes, which were damaged this week when their frozen pipes burst.
Mikayla Courville, 20, said her roommate woke her late Monday at her home in the southeastern Pasadena suburb of Houston when her front yard was covered in snow from an arctic storm.
She said, ‘I hear something. ‘And we thought it was raining,’ said Courville. But a pipe was frozen and burst and water ran through the ceiling into her laundry room, dining room and kitchen.
“When we tried to mop up all the water, our ceiling fell over our kitchen,” Courville said Friday at a YMCA in northwest Houston as she took and placed packages of dry noodles from boxes and bags of bottled water Houston vehicles stream through.
Courville, a YMCA employee, said she was doing this week and extra shifts to help pay for repairs to her father, who owns the house she lives in, as his insurer said they would do damage, Do not repair those caused by burst pipes. They regard the freezing weather that kinked the pipes as an act of God.
“I’ve seen a lot of people on social media run down blankets, sheetrock, and insulation. So I didn’t feel really bad because it wasn’t just happening to me, ”said Courville. “But it was like crap, it still sucks, you know, because we have a big hole in our house.”
Governor Greg Abbott called on the leaders of the state power grid operator, the Texas Electric Reliability Council, to resign this week after ordering prolonged blackouts that lasted more than three days for some homes in order to get a grid up within minutes after a disaster was pushed. ERCOT officials say inaction could have resulted in weeks of downtime if an increase in demand from people cranking up their heaters was accompanied by a decrease in supply as the cold weather caused power plant equipment to malfunction.
Now that power has been restored to most of Texas, with only locally failed power lines failing and temperatures soaring to the 1940s after several cold days, people with installation problems are struggling to find replacement pipes.
Miranda Bernal, 19, said she and her parents boiled water in buckets and bathed it in the shower because a broken pipe cut off the water supply to their home.
They were in hardware stores around their home in North Houston and the surrounding suburbs with no luck.
“We can’t find a pipe. That’s the problem. No pipe. …. I have some friends who help and they say the camps are stripped. It was just crazy, ”she said.
Susan Hernandez came to the YMCA with her mother-in-law and they both enjoyed a couple of bags of 12-ounce water bottles. As with Bernal and Courville, the pipes in their house broke.
She said she and her husband ordered pipes from Amazon. “But they won’t be here until next Thursday.”
Plumbers are stretched thin, some doing up to 180 jobs a day.
To meet the massive demand, Abbott said Thursday that it authorized the state plumbing agency to issue temporary licenses to non-state plumbers and apply for renewal to former plumbers whose licenses have expired.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott leaves a press conference after speaking about the winter storm at the State Operations Center in Austin on Thursday. (Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman via AP)
While Governor blames ERCOT for failing to prep the network for the cold weather and made reform of the organization a priority for state lawmaking at this meeting, Democrats say he is also to blame.
During a Zoom call on Friday, Democratic members of the Texas Congressional Delegation beat up Abbott and other Republican state officials for the way they managed the state’s power grid.
Critics say in order to bypass Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversight, Texas set up its grid to operate independently of other states’ grids, leaving Texans on a cold island when they need an infusion of electricity more than ever required from external sources.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said Texas must hook up its power grid to an interstate system that could draw power from neighboring Oklahoma and Arkansas, which also suffered extreme cold and power disruptions this week.
She said Colorado offered to send electricity to Texas but has no way of getting it there.
During that crisis, Lee said Abbott had failed to reach Democrats who represented Texas in Congress. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, also a Democrat, said in an interview with MSNBC Thursday night that he had not spoken to the governor this week either.
“A conference call from the chief of this state could have helped cities and counties a lot,” said Lee.
Julián Castro, who served as Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, said Texans would have to vote out Abbott, who is up for re-election in 2022, and other Republicans.
“At the state level, we need a change of leadership in the coming years, because this is the only way to ensure that basic functions such as those of the government actually function smoothly,” he said. “They give Republicans responsibility, they hate the government, they don’t believe in it and they have shown time and time again that they are incompetent when it comes to running it.”
Castro said Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, his Republican compatriot, only care about their own political careers rather than the people they are supposed to serve.
After it was revealed that Cruz had flown to Cancun on Wednesday to vacation with his daughters as Texans struggled with the cold and power outages, Cruz flew back Thursday and faced reporters on the lawn of his Houston home.
“In retrospect, I would not have done it,” said Cruz, adding that he and his staff are in “constant communication with state and local leaders to investigate what is happening in Texas.”
Cruz was slandered on social media and in the press when former El Paso Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who narrowly lost to Cruz to oust the Senator in 2018, was recognized for his humanitarian work.
O’Rourke organized volunteers to run a telephone bank that week. He said he made more than 784,000 calls to seniors in Texas to see if they needed food, water, or shelter.
Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, viewed by some Texas Republicans as a threat to the state’s oil and gas-dependent economy for introducing the Green New Deal, which she believes is a roadmap for weaning the nation of fossil fuels, Texans has now raised $ 2 million in aid.
She said she was flying to Houston on Friday to distribute supplies with colleague Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas.
Despite Abbott’s lack of communication with the Texas Democrats, he phoned President Joe Biden for a major disaster statement authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance for uninsured home repairs. Biden is expected to sign the statement on Friday.
On Friday, water will be loaded into a vehicle at a water distribution site in Houston. (AP Photo / David J. Phillip)
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