By: Emily Bunn
As Texas faces its worst winter storm, and largest insurance claim, in the state’s history, many Texans are banning together to stay warm and conserve resources. The frigid winter storm that has been ravaging the state has led to burst pipes, power failures, and flooded homes. Many residents have been left without any clean drinking water, heat, or power. Some have taken to sleeping in blanket covered tents, while others are attempting to heat their homes by boiling their limited water supply.
In towns such as Lubbock, Texas, frozen water pipes have lead to leaks, water damage, a lack of heat, and ice accumulations, especially in school campuses. Across the state, k-12 schools and universities–such as Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock–have been affected. Chief Operations Officer Rick Rodriguez said to KCBD: “We’re never going to put our kids in a school where their safety is compromised. That’s our highest priority. We would never bring kids back to school if we did not think it was safe.”
Tragically, more than 50 Texans have died from hypothermia, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the grimmest situations arriving from this storm include the death of Loan Le, a grandmother, and her three young grandchildren in a house fire after attempting to stay warm during the night. While power had been restored to most people across the region after last Saturday, approximately 69,000 in Texas, 61,000 in Mississippi, and thousands more in the surrounding states of Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia still remain without any power.
While the spirit of community aid rippled across Texas–through programs like The Houston Food Bank, the Austin Disaster Relief Network, the San Antonio Food Bank, Feeding Texas, Front Steps, and several community efforts, such as at the local H-E-B grocery stores–the state’s Senator, Ted Cruz, selfishly took a flight to Cancun, abandoning many freezing Texans and his pet poodle.
As Cruz lounged at the Ritz-Carlton, Texans faced depleted water supplies, empty grocery store shelves, and freezing temperatures. Stepping in to take some responsibility, President Joe Biden declared an emergency declaration in Texas. This emergency notice will allow for Texas residents and business owners to apply for temporary housing grants, home repair loans, and other emergency aid. While the declaration doesn’t cover the entire state, individual assistance is being provided to 77 of 254 counties, including those surrounding Texas’ most populous areas, including Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Texas Governor Greg Abbot discussed Biden’s declaration in a statement:
“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state, while this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need.”
As the Texas National Guard has been deployed across the state to deliver water and conduct welfare checks and relief efforts, such as the $3.2 million dollars help raised by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas continues to battle the hazardous consequences of this unforeseen winter weather.