SAN ANTONIO – Eight million texas boiled water to drink on Tuesday as a plethora of plumbers and engineers struggled to make up for the damage done to countless homes and businesses by a brutal winter storm.
Many Texans have faced food shortages as grocery stores have tried to stay in stock, huge crowds have landed in pantries, and the epidemic continued to threaten a state where, according to the latest NBC data, nearly 43,000 people died in Covid-19 and 2.6 million man infected.
About 24,000 people were without running water Tuesday after their public water systems were “made inoperable” by a seasonless cold winter explosion, the Texas Environmental Quality Commission said.
And in some places where the water has recently been restored, the part that flows out of the tap has left a lot to be desired.
“The water itself is going to be really yellow,” San Antonio’s mother, Evelyn Esquivel, told NBC News.
But at least Esquivel had water. Water supply in rural areas is recovering at a much slower pace.
“We can safely say we’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Toby Baker, executive director of the Environmental Quality Committee for NBC News’s subsidiary in the state capital, Austin. “So our regional offices are systematically trying to reach out and proactively trying to reach out to smaller rural water systems to say,‘ Hey, what do you need? “
Nevertheless, the committee reported significant progress since Saturday, when 1,445 utility systems reported service disruptions due to the cold, affecting 14.4 million Texas in 190 counties.
Furthermore, while electricity was restored in much of Texas after the state’s power grid twitched at historically low temperatures, many people were also hit by huge electricity bills because scarce energy meant higher prices in the state’s market system.
Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican and free market champion, has already promised to protect consumers from “unreasonable bills”.
“Texans who have been suffering from frosty cold for days without electricity should not be subjected to sky-high energy bills due to the surge in the energy market,” Abbott said Sunday.
Dallas Democratic Secretary of State Rafael Anchía told NBC News on Tuesday that “this situation is far from over.”
“Millions of Texans have already suffered from the rather deep recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Anchia said. “We have people who are already in a fragile state, and when this is confused with even the worst state winter storm and disaster … the people who barely clung were completely wiped out.
But after being tormented for a week in Texas, Mother Nature now shook hands. It was 70 degrees and sunshine in Houston on Tuesday, far from below zero in some parts of Texas for just a few days.
According to The Weather Channel, Friday’s forecast, when President Joe Biden is expected to visit Texas ’largest city, Houston, to monitor recovery efforts, is typical of cloudy conditions typical of a 64-degree winter peak.
Nevertheless, much work remains to be done to restore Texas to normalcy.
“Nearly half of the residents of one of the largest states in the United States are experiencing a plumbing disaster due to pipes ruptured from freezing temperatures and significant power outages,” said George Greene IV, of the Water Mission, a South Carolina-based Christian engineering organization that countries are working on development projects for a safe water and wastewater community and responding to disasters where emergency safe water access is needed.
“If you don’t have water at home, it means you can’t wash the toilet, shower or wash clothes,” Greene said.
The Water Mission is putting together a game plan to make repairs that will take weeks, if months, and has asked Plumbers, a borderless partner organization, to call 1,600 licensed volunteers to help with the massive repairs, a group spokesman said. Gregg Dinino.
In San Antonio, there was heavy traffic at the city’s main Food Bank, where members of the Texas National Guard and volunteers at a Mormon church helped distribute supplies, and a line of cars pulled out of the parking lot about two miles when a NBC News reporter came in on Tuesday.
Louie Guzman, director of development at the Food Bank, said they see about 150 people most days. Since the storm, numbers have jumped to around 400 a day.
“We see a higher turnout on days we don’t expect,” Guzman said. “It’s usually expected to be 150-200 here in the afternoon, but we’ve seen double that because of the storm.”
Among those waiting in line was 38-year-old Esquivel, who said that in addition to her husband and three children, her parents and two brothers are in her house. Despite medical experts being warned against having too many people in the house at the time of the pandemic, Esquivel said he could not turn them around.
“Honestly, I didn’t think of Covid, that was my last thing,” he said. “I was just trying to survive and keep warm because it was cold.” It was cold.”
Esquivel said his power was back on, but the water coming out of the tap was sickly yellow and he was boiling it. She said she came to the Food Bank because her husband had a hard time finding construction work and because the local grocery store was largely clean.
“There was no water of any kind, no milk, just noodles and more,” he said.
Having little experience with snowstorms, he told Esquivel that he didn’t show up to make staples ahead of time.
“We survived,” he said. “We can say we’re blessed and survived.”
Michael Ybarra refilled the kit before the storm, but after the power outage, there was only enough space in the insulated crate to hide outside in the snow for the meat he bought. So the milk and eggs spoiled.
“This situation is very bad,” said Ybarra, 40. “We lost a lot of food and stuff.”
Gamboa reported from San Antonio and Siemaskko from Montclair (NJ)