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

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of food packages in appreciation of the last year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations came via local Epicurean representative Kerri Weightman who collected money for the purchases. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Hospital workers receive food donation

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of… Continue reading

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read