US

As winter storm moves into Northeast, Texans are now grappling with lack of safe drinking water

Doyle Rice
 
| USA TODAY

play

  • The crisis was not over in Texas due to the lack of safe drinking water in many areas.
  • The extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 57 people.
  • Yet another snowstorm will affect portions of the Midwest, Great Lakes and interior Northeast on Sunday and Monday.

The winter storm that brought more misery to the South on Thursday continued to dump snow and ice across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Friday, just as millions of Texans grappled with the aftermath of the deadly winter blast. 

Although power outages numbered about 183,000 in Texas on Friday morning – way down from the 4 million earlier in the week – the crisis was not over due to the lack of safe drinking water in many areas.

The storms and frigid weather also left over 150,000 without power in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. More than 111,000 were without electricity in Mississippi early Friday, according to poweroutage.us. And in Oregon, 72,000 were still enduring a weeklong outage following a massive ice and snow storm.

The extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 57 people, with a growing toll of those who perished trying to keep warm. 

‘Just crippling’: Texans devastated by ice storm are now hunting empty shelves for food and water

In the northeastern U.S., winter weather advisories stretched from Eastern Kentucky to Massachusetts by Friday morning with a handful of winter storm warnings splattered across North Carolina into Maryland, AccuWeather said. Over 50 million people live where the advisories or warnings were in effect.

The storm was forecast to bring 1 to 3 inches of additional snowfall to the Northeast on Friday, the National Weather Service said, while places downwind of the Lower Great Lakes could see between 4 and 8 inches of snow. 

Yet another snowstorm will affect portions of the Midwest, Great Lakes and interior Northeast on Sunday and Monday, AccuWeather said. 

“Compared to the wintry precipitation this past week, snow amounts are expected to be lower and there is little threat of ice,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Ryan Adamson. “Furthermore, areas in the South that dealt with winter’s wrath the past several days will be spared this time.”

Misery continues in the South

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.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that state residents “are not out of the woods,” with temperatures still well below freezing statewide and disruptions in food supply chains.

Effects of power outages: It’s a ‘matter of life and death’ for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities

Adding to the state’s 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.

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.

Firefighters battling a massive blaze at an apartment complex in the San Antonio area Thursday night were hampered by frozen fire hydrants. 

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the building was evacuated and there have been no reports of injuries, firefighters said. By the evening, the blaze engulfed the building as firefighters had to continuously retrieve water from the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.

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

Texas cold snap: Experts fear damage could be ‘pretty similar to the effects of a hurricane’

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.

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 was forced to cancel all incoming and outgoing passenger flights Friday due to water pressure issues.

Nationwide, the flight cancellation situation has improved, dropping from 2,900 on Thursday afternoon to just over 1,100 as of 7:45 a.m. EST Friday. FlightAware also reported over 200 delays.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport continues to lead the global list of airports with the greatest number of canceled flights, as it has for most of the week. Its dominant airline, American, still has most canceled flights.

And in Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said most of the city of about 150,000 was without water Thursday night. Crews were pumping 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.

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

Contributing: The Associated Press; Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button