July 23, 2021

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Texas weather: A final round of freezing temperatures strikes late Friday as the state struggles to rebound from winter storms

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Saturday morning temperatures may be as low as 20 degrees for many inland locations, including Dallas and College Station, but the welcome return of onshore winds and full sunshine will warm the state into the 50’s and 60’s in the afternoon, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said. Most of the state will stay above freezing after that initial thaw.

A weak cold front is expected Sunday evening, but is expected to bring only minimal impacts.

The brutal temperatures, ice and snow once had power out for millions of Texas, but as of early Saturday morning, only about 85,000 people in the state were left in the dark, according to PowerOutage.US. However, more than half the population — more than 14.9 million people — had disruptions in their water service as of Friday, according to Tiffany Young, a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Smita Pande in Austin told CNN she lost power to her home early in the week, and she and her husband stayed at a friend’s house until water was lost there. The group then traveled to another friend’s house that had operating utilities until their water supply failed as well. The three households returned to Pande’s home, where they relied on collecting snow to melt in order to flush their toilets.

Although power is now restored, Pande heard that the wait for water may last for a few days.

“At this point we’re planning on getting water in a week, we have to assume the worst-case scenario,” Pande told CNN’s Don Lemon in an interview Friday. “We’re hearing two or three days at this point, we’re going to hope for the best.”

Water is loaded into a vehicle at a City of Houston water distribution site Friday in Houston. The drive-thru stadium location provided bottled water to individuals in need while the city remains on a boil water notice.

Race to restore utilities

Dr. Schuwan Dorsey told CNN she lost power and water early Monday and resorted to sleeping with her two dogs in her car, intermittently turning the engine on to generate heat.

Her Life Alert bracelet was offline because her home’s electricity was out, Dorsey also said.

5 ways you can help those facing homelessness in the cold

“I was in danger with my health,” Dorsey said Friday, noting that her power was on for a mere three minutes Wednesday. Electricity has since returned fully yet water remains out.

With burst pipes and power outages, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN that his city needs water more than any other resource. When the power grid failed, it impacted the main water treatment plant and the city’s reservoir was lost, Adler told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. Those that do have water are under boil water advisories.

“This is a community of people that are scared and upset and angry,” Adler said. “We’re eventually going to need some better answers to why we’re here and how we prevent it from ever happening again. But for right now we’re just trying to get water.”

Many hospitals across the state are strained as well, with no running water, burst pipes, low pressure and boil water notices, according to a statement from Carrie Williams, spokesperson for the Texas Hospital Association.

Williams said that there are also issues with staffing as some employees have had to stay on site in order to care for patients, putting a strain on food, linens and water. Provisions and medication stocks ran low, although there are some supply trucks moving Friday, Williams said.

As residents of the city of Killeen, Texas, were under water conservation conditions Friday night, fire crews were also battling a blaze that tore through a Hilton Garden Inn near Fort Hood, according to a tweet from the Killeen Police Department.
Video from CNN affiliate KWTX showed multiple police and fire crews on the scene where the building appeared to be completely engulfed. CNN has reached out to the Killeen Fire Department for additional details.
Marie Maybou melts snow on the kitchen stove in Austin on Friday, using the water to flush the toilets in her home after the city water stopped running.

State leaders respond to water crisis

Water disruptions aren’t expected to go away once the freezing temperatures do: frozen pipes have burst, but many are concerned even more pipes will as they thaw.

To address the breaks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he is working with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners. More than 320 plumbers have renewed their plumbing license, Abbott said, and the plumbing board is coordinating with out-of-state companies to bring more personnel to Texas.
'Thank God for The Texas Tribune': Power crisis shines light on local news

“We know that there will be great demand for plumbers today tomorrow that this weekend in the coming days,” the governor said. “We want to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to help you gain access to the plumbers that you need to solve your plumbing and leakage problems along those lines.”

The state is also boosting the testing of local water systems by partnering with the federal government and neighboring Arkansas, Abbott announced Friday.

Working with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has set up three mobile water testing labs, accord to Abbott.

2021-02-20 05:56:04

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