In the aftermath of a historic winter storm, Texas is facing an unprecedented series of crises, and its residents are suffering for it. Amid Texas’ independent power grid failing and shortages of water and gasoline, citizens are resorting to desperate measures to withstand the freezing cold temperatures.
The winter storm, now coined Winter Storm Uri, descended upon Texas on Saturday, bringing with it freezing temperatures, blankets of snow, and ice. As millions of Texans scrambled to heat their homes, Texas’ independent power grid buckled under the pressure, causing massive power outages in several areas of the state.
Millions of homes have lost heating as a result. Some Texans have resorted to burning furniture as a means to survive against the cold. A Houston woman and her daughter were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in their home to generate heat.
On top of the power and heating crisis, several towns are experiencing severe water shortages. As a result, officials have advised Texans to use boiled tap water to shower, cook, and brush their teeth. Natural gas production also dropped severely due to the freezing temperatures.
Throughout the crisis, people have been looking for someone--or something--to pin blame on. Several Texans blame the state’s government officials for not adequately preparing for the eventuality of a winter storm, while others cite the state’s wind turbines as the cause behind the havoc, despite the fact that alternative energy only makes up a small percentage of Texas’ energy resources.
Consensus, however, finds that the fault lies with the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, which failed to properly prepare Texas’ independent power grid for the possibility of a devastating winter storm due to the state’s year-round warm weather. Since the storm, five members of ERCOT have resigned from their positions.
So far, an estimated 80 people have died as a result of the winter storm and its ensuing crises, though experts maintain that the final death toll may be far larger. On February 20th, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration in Texas, effectively making federally funded disaster relief and grants for temporary housing and repairs possible.