U.S. & World News

Texas outages kill 22, deprive 4 million of power

Blame falls on green policies and state grid after water and heat turned off

By Grace Carlo, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Though the power outages have largely been resolved, their effects still in Texas communities. Some still have disrupted water services, others are facing enormous power bills and many mourn the losses of the 22 deaths. COVID-19 precautions also disrupted typical neighborhood heat-sharing. 

Texas was bombarded with blizzards, frigid temperatures and numerous bursting pipes last week, leaving many without sufficient water, power and heat sources.

Four million residents were left without power due to the storms. 22 individuals died, many because of hypothermia and injuries sustained due to the outages. 

Temperatures in Texas dropped to roughly 20 degrees. Winters in Texas usually do not drop this low, especially for many consecutive days. 

The state’s power plants were not prepared for freezing conditions. Many pipes froze during the snowstorms, and when restored, did not produce safe drinking water. Texans with heat had to boil water first before drinking it, and those without heat were left without clean sources of drinking water.    

Grocery stores had inventories wiped out. Residents who made it to grocery stores cited an enormous shortage of food. 

Lisa Dunne, an online Montessori Grad program student, lives in San Antonio, Texas. She expressed the fear that many Texans experienced throughout the blackouts. 

“We were all pretty worried and stressed the whole week. This was predicted but the impact was unexpected,” Dunne said.

Texas’ power grid is almost entirely independent of other states, meaning that they could not draw power from other states not experiencing the same level of emergency. 

Due to the unexpected increase in demand for power, many natural gas plants went offline. This surged the price of power from an average of roughly $20 per megawatt hour of power to $9,000 per megawatt hour.

For some who retained power during the crises, this meant that the price of their electricity bill increased approximately 450%. 

Not only did Texas not have the proper response tools to deal with the storms and power outages, but the state is still being affected by COVID-19. 

“Going to a heating center or inviting neighbors into our homes was not an option we were comfortable with,” Dunne said.  

Typically, during weather crises with loss of power, communities will come together to share warmth and electricity. Schools, town halls and recreation centers would serve as housing for people without electricity to congregate and to stay safe. 

However, COVID-19 made this option less than palatable for some. Dunne cited her concern that large congregations like these increase risk of virus transmission, especially considering that they are held indoors. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz made a controversial trip to Cancun, Mexico during his state’s emergency. 

“It’s terrible and not honorable,” Dunne said of her representative. 

The storm led President Biden to declare the situation a “major disaster,” which permitted the federal government to provide money and aid to Texas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been sent to the state in hopes of fixing broken pipes and other housing damages sustained during the storms. 

After millions in Texas were without power and were freezing, the temperatures skyrocketed back up into the 70s this week. 

Texas is still recovering from the physical and financial injuries sustained during the storms and could take months to be restored to normal. The storm put a hold on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, delaying the number of people being vaccinated. 

If you are interested in helping out with the storm recovery, you can take part by donating to food banks such as Feeding Texas.

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