West Virginia National Guardsmen and members of the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority use side-by-side vehicles to check on residents in hard to reach areas during a Health and Wellness check mission in rural Wayne County on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

West Virginia National Guardsmen and members of the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority use side-by-side vehicles to check on residents in hard to reach areas during a Health and Wellness check mission in rural Wayne County on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

VIDEO: Lights come back on in Texas as water woes rise in the South

More than 190,000 homes and businesses remain without power

Many of the millions of Texans who lost power for days after a deadly winter blast overwhelmed the electric grid now have it back, but the crisis was far from over in parts of the South, with many people lacking safe drinking water.

More than 190,000 homes and businesses remained without power in Texas according to poweroutage.us Friday morning, down from about 3 million two days earlier, though utility officials said limited rolling blackouts were still possible.

The storms also left more than 330,000 from Virginia to Louisiana without power and about 71,000 in Oregon were still enduring a weeklong outage following a massive ice and snow storm.

The snow and ice moved into the Appalachians, northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, and later the Northeast as the extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 58 people, including a Tennessee farmer trying to save two calves that apparently wandered into a frozen pond and 17-year-old Oklahoma girl who fell into a frozen pond.

A growing number of people have perished trying to keep warm. In and around the western Texas city of Abilene, authorities said six people died of the cold — including a 60-year-old man found dead in his bed in his frigid home. In the Houston area, a family died from carbon monoxide as their car idled in their garage.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas used rolling blackouts to ease strained power grids. But the remaining Texas outages were mostly weather-related, according to the state’s grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Federal Emergency Management Agency acting administrator Bob Fenton said Friday that teams were in Texas with fuel, water, blankets and other supplies.

“What has me most worried is making sure that people stay warm,” Fenton said on “CBS This Morning,” while urging people without heat to go to a shelter or warming centre.

Rotating outages for Texas could return if electricity demand rises as people get power and heating back, said Dan Woodfin, the council’s senior director of system operations.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that residents “are not out of the woods,” with temperatures still well below freezing statewide, south central Texas threatened by a winter storm and disruptions in food supply chains.

Adding to the misery: The weather jeopardized drinking water systems. Authorities ordered 7 million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it, following the record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and pipes. In Abilene, a man who died at a health care facility when a lack of water pressure made medical treatment impossible.

Water pressure dropped after lines froze and because many people left faucets dripping to prevent pipes from icing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Abbott urged residents to shut off water to prevent more busted pipes and preserve municipal system pressure.

President Joe Biden said he called Abbott on Thursday evening and offered additional support from the federal government to state and local agencies.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said residents will probably have to boil tap water in the fourth-largest U.S. city until Sunday or Monday.

Federal emergency officials sent generators to support water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes in Texas, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, officials said. The Texas Restaurant Association was co-ordinating food donations to hospitals.

Two of Houston Methodist’s community hospitals had no running water and still treated patients but cancelled most non-emergency surgeries and procedures for Thursday and possibly Friday, said spokeswoman Gale Smith.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 1,000 Texas public water systems and 177 of the state’s 254 counties had reported weather-related operational disruptions, affecting more than 14 million people, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

About 260,000 homes and businesses in Tennessee’s largest county, which includes Memphis, were told to boil water after cold temperatures led to water main ruptures and problems at pumping stations. Memphis International Airport cancelled all incoming and outgoing passenger flights Friday due to water pressure issues.

In Texas, more than 300 flights in and out of Dallas and Houston were cancelled Friday, according to flightaware.com. Particularly affected was American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth.

In Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said most of the city of about 161,000 was without water Thursday night. Crews pumped water to refill city tanks but faced a shortage of chemicals to treat the water, she said.

“We are dealing with an extreme challenge with getting more water through our distribution system,” Lumumba said.

About 85 seniors in a Jackson apartment building lost water service Monday and were relying on deliveries from a building manager, said resident Linda Weathersby.

Weathersby went outside collecting buckets of ice to melt it so she could flush her toilet and said “my back’s hurting now.”

Before the wintry weather moved from Texas, the city of Del Rio along the U.S.-Mexico border, got nearly 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snow on Thursday, surpassing the city’s one-day record for snowfall.

Paul J. Weber And Acacia Coronado, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Storm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to Stoney and Minnie lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

(Submitted photo)
The deadly divide

To the Editor, Years of progress in eliminating poverty around the world… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read