Local News

Leading Off (2/17/21)

Millions are still without power as second winter storm moves across the region. At least 10 are dead so far in Texas.

Millions of Texans Still Without Power. If you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones. Not much has changed since yesterday. As of 6:35 a.m. 605,311 Oncor customers don’t have power, which is an improvement over yesterday’s high of 1.2 million, but millions of Texans are still out in the cold as temperatures remain below zero across the state. Here are some of their stories. There is still no timeline with regards to when power will be restored. Worse still, local officials are enraged that state officials gave them no warning of the crisis they saw coming days in advance.

Expect More Snow, Freezing Temperatures Today. The second winter storm continues to crawl through the region dropping 1 to 3 inches of snow and ice. Pete Delkus says to expect the wintery mix to continue through the day and taper off in the evening. But tonight will be another bitterly cold one, and temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing until Saturday.

Deep Freeze Fuels Humanitarian Crisis. At least 10 are dead across Texas. Hospitals are seeing a surge in hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisonings as freezing residents turn to their gas ranges, camping stoves, barbecues, cars, and other hazardous means to stay warm. There are dozens of videos floating around social media showing frozen homes and flooding apartment complexes as pipes burst. Schools are shut for classes, but some are opening buildings to help keep students and families warm. Other districts are concerned that canceled classes could threaten their finances since Texas funds schools based on daily attendance. COVID-19 vaccine deliveries have been delayed by the storm. The Denton County judge warns of fuel and food scarcity. Here are the latest school and business closures.

Winter Storm Disaster Symptom of Broken Politics. After a 2011 storm knocked out much of Texas’ grid, state lawmakers demanded change, but they never funded infrastructure improvements nor passed any laws forcing power companies to winterize or prepare for future disasters. State lawmakers are again demanding answers from ERCOT, the agency that runs Texas’ power grid, and Gov. Greg Abbott has added the crisis as an emergency item to the legislative agenda. Many legislators and local political leaders were incensed to learn that the heads of ERCOT’s board don’t even live in Texas. And yet, when Abbott appeared on Sean Hannity last night, he blamed frozen wind turbines for the outage, which is flatly untrue, and then politicized the crisis by laughably claiming the Green New Deal was somehow responsible, even though Texas’ outage is directly related to both problems at natural gas power plants and the dysfunctions of a deregulated, privately run electrical grid.

 

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