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It's a Winter Nightmare: Uri Leaves Millions of Texans in Crisis

A week of snow and ice has left millions of Americans without necessities...

Since mid-February the historic Winter Storm, known as Uri, has left millions without electricity, gas, or clean water. The largest snowstorm to hit the US since The North American Blizzard Snowmageddon has caused the deaths of 34 Americans from freezing temperatures, including a healthy 11-year-old child from hypothermia after his family lost power. Families are doing what they can to stay warm, including burning furniture. Texas has been the front story of this natural disaster due to unpreparedness, lack of updated infrastructure, and incompetent leadership.

Over five million Texans people went without power for three or more days. It has since dropped to 170 thousand residents according to PowerOuttage.US. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), responsible for the state’s power grid, restored power to Texan homes on Feb. 18th but is facing massive criticism for their inadequate planning of the upcoming storm.

ERCOT officials stated that the winter storm went above their expectations and made the difficult decision to shut everything down instead of performing rolling blackouts (a tactic used to keep the generator from going out for months). However, sources show ERCOT CEO and President Bill Magness only discussing the projected snowstorm for 40 seconds in a Feb 9th meeting that lasted over two hours. Governor Greg Abbott is calling for the immediate resignations of the ERCOT board members for their failure in being transparent with the people of Texas:

“There seemed to be a lack of preparation, and making sure we did have access to back-up power in the event that the power generators were incapable of generating power, but all that aside …. they should be providing greater transparency,” said Abbott in a live interview with KTRK. “They are a public entity. They deserve to tell you, as well as government leaders, exactly what is going and what is not going on, and they are not stepping up and providing that level of transparency.”

A shortage of water is the reality of 13 million people. The freezing temperature has affected hundreds of water systems across Texas, resulting in broken water lines. While running water to prevent your pipes from bursting is the usual method, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and cities advise against it, stating that water levels are getting too low and dangerous to drink. City officials are urging their residents to conserve as much water as possible and boil before use.

Along with ERCOT, politicians are facing backlash for their statements and decision-making.

In a Facebook post rant on Feb. 16th, Colorado City, mayor Tim Boyd describes people demanding power, heat, and water to survive, lazy and weak. He uses the same ole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” speech to make people provide their electricity and water themselves while pronouncing that “Only the strong will survive, and the weak will perish.”

“Bottom Line — Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution!” Boyd ended all capital letters.

That same day, Boyd announces his resignation after constant complaints but still won’t apologize because his words were “taken out of context.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is also facing backlash after traveling with his family to Cancun during the winter storm. He came back with the excuse that his daughters were out of school and wanted to travel for the weekend.

He took on the critics with stride saying, “just trying to be a good dad.” and “I’m also a senator and working hard to fight for the state of Texas.” Sen. Cruz arrived back in Houston on the 18th with a police escort and cameras waiting.

It’s a long road ahead for the people of Texas as the storm, lower temperatures, and ice continues. If you would like to assist in any way, here is a list of organizations to donate to and support.

Alvarez Alejandro. “When DC froze: Remembering ‘Snowmageddon’ 10 years later.” wtopnews, 05, Feb. 2020.

Brito, Christopher. “Texas mayor resigns after telling residents desperate for power and heat “only the strong will survive.” CBS News, 18, Feb. 2021.

Douglas, Erin. “Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from catastrophic monthslong blackouts, officials say.” The Texas Tribune, 18, Feb. 2021.

“Texas Gov. Great Abbott calls on ERCOT leadership to resign during ABC13 one-on-one interview.” ABC News 13, 17th, Feb. 2021.

Jenkins, Cameron. “Authorities suspect hypothermia after 11-year-old Texas boy dies in bed amid power outages.” The Hill, 19th, Feb. 2021.

Mekelburg, Madlin. “ERCOT officials spent 40 seconds on winter storm preparedness at Feb. 9 meeting.” Austin American Statesman, 19, Feb. 2021.

Samuels, Alex. “Nearly 12 million Texans now face water disruptions. The state needs residents to stop dripping taps.” The Texas Tribune, 17th, Feb. 2021.

Wu, Nicholas. “Sen. Ted Cruz calls Mexico trip amid Texas winter crisis and power outages ‘a mistake’” USA Today, 18, Feb. 2021.

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