The snowstorms that have wreaked havoc in Texas left the state without power after a surge in demand coupled with frozen utility plants. Texas established its own power grid thus avoiding federal regulation which garnered praise from many conservatives but has now launched a feud between political parties over the GOP’s lack of properly managing the energy industry. As a consequence, millions were left without power in below freezing temperatures which is a rarity for the state leaving many unprepared for the snow.
no power. The little Groceries we have left are on the balcony to keep cold. We have spent the last 3 days with no power in temperatures ranging from 0° to 30° #TexasBlackout #prayfortexas #TexasWinterStorm2021 #Austin pic.twitter.com/U42JkFwdF4
— RéJean⚜️ (@rejeanlevell) February 18, 2021
“So much of this was avoidable,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-TX said this week on an interview with MSNBC. “Going back to the deregulation of our electricity grid in Texas, which has created an incentive to actually not weatherize or protect against these events.”
Legislator’s didn’t heed warnings about the grid’s inability to handle extreme weather conditions, CNBC reports. Energy experts claim that the state’s decision to not require equipment upgrades for a sturdier system is partly to blame for the collapse.
NPR reported that nearly 3 million homes and businesses in Texas remained without power for three consecutive days. On Wednesday, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages roughly 75% of the Texas power grid, announced that about 600,000 households had power restored overnight. Yet even as the power returns many are still now dealing with a lack of water. Authorities ordered 7 million people to boil tap water before drinking it after water pressure dropped after lines froze.
While millions were impacted, many low incomes residents (mainly people of color) were hit the hardest. Local leaders of these communities pointed out that neighborhoods with mostly BIPOC residents tend to have older homes with bad insulation, leaking roofs and older pipes less likely to withstand extreme weather conditions, The Texas Tribune reported.
Meanwhile Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was seen getting on a flight to Cancun, Mexico with his family on Wednesday where he planned to stay for a few days. Following the backlash he flew back immediately claiming he was just dropping his family off. Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES, based in San Antonio, Texas, commented by saying, “turns out that seeking refuge in another country when a natural disaster hits home is not a bad idea after all. Right, @tedcruz?”
While Cruz was condemned for not providing aid, nationwide people and organizations have mobilized to help. The Texas Tribune curated a list of aid organizations and warming centers, both statewide and for various cities and many have taken to social media to spread the word.
The latest reports show that at least 30 people have died of causes related to the snowstorm with The Associated Press reporting that traffic accidents were a major cause as many attempted to drive on hazardous roads. The second most common cause of death has been carbon monoxide poisoning after people ran vehicles or generators inside to keep warm.