Texas weather: Deaths mount as winter storm leaves millions without poweron February 17, 2021 at 12:30 pm

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

At least 21 people have died while many more are struggling with power cuts and frigid conditions.

A huge winter storm sweeping across the southern US has killed at least 21 people and left millions without power.

There have been widespread blackouts in Texas, where the energy grid was overwhelmed by a surge in demand.

Millions of people in the state, which rarely experiences such low temperatures, have been struggling to cope with the lack of power and frigid conditions.

The extreme weather is forecast to continue until the weekend.

Deaths attributed to the storm have been recorded in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Missouri.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said more than 150 million Americans were now under winter storm warnings.

And on Tuesday, it reported that more than 73% of the US was covered by snow.

Snow continues to cause disruption in Fort Worth, Texas

image copyrightGetty Images

The freezing storm has even reached northern and central parts of Mexico, where millions of people have experienced days of intermittent power cuts.

“I’m in Houston, Texas freezing to death,” one Twitter user, Chris Prince, wrote. “No power, no heat, no water. I have four young children. How is this happening right now?”

Another user, Josh Morgerman, wrote that a friend in Texas had resorted to “burning furniture in the fireplace” to stay warm.

The recorded deaths include people who have died in traffic accidents, as well as some who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from running cars and generators indoors to stay warm.

“This is an absolute public health disaster,” one medical official in Houston told the local television station KPRC-TV. “[Carbon monoxide poisoning] certainly happens when it gets cold, but never in these numbers.

Queues have formed at shops in Texas where many are unused to freezing temperatures

image copyrightGetty Images

One county said it had seen more than 300 suspected carbon monoxide cases during the cold snap. “It’s turning into a mini mass casualty event,” one Harris County doctor told the Houston Chronicle.

At least four people were killed following a house fire in Houston that officials said may have been sparked by candles. Separately, police said two men found alongside a Houston highway were believed to have died due to the cold.

Image shows temperatures in US
1px transparent line

Meanwhile in North Carolina, a tornado spawned by the same storm left three people dead and 10 injured.

The cold snap has also forced Covid-19 vaccination centres to close for several days and hindered deliveries of doses. Some centres raced to use vaccines that could no longer be refrigerated at the required temperature.

The state has seen some of its coldest temperatures in more than 30 years – some areas hit 0F (-18C) on Sunday – and US President Joe Biden earlier approved a state of emergency.

Many hotels in Texas are full with people who have no electricity at home

image copyrightEPA

Some four million people in Texas are without power, including 1.4 million in Houston. Around a quarter of homes in Dallas are also experiencing blackouts.

The scale of the power outage has prompted anger from some officials and residents. Governor Greg Abbott said the situation was “unacceptable”.

He called for an investigation into the the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), an energy co-operative responsible for the vast majority of the state’s electricity. He later told local media that the body should be reformed and its leaders should resign.

“This was a total failure,” he told ABC News. “They showed that they were not reliable.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, Ercot said it was “restoring load as fast as we can in a stable manner”.

A large trailer truck is seen flipped sideways on highway 59 in Texas

image copyrightGetty Images

Homes in the state are not normally insulated for cold weather, meaning that indoor temperatures in homes quickly dropped to freezing after heat systems failed. Frozen pipes also burst, despite attempts by some homeowners to insulate them from the cold using blankets.

Chuck Hairston, who lives in a suburb of Fort Worth, had been without electricity for about 31 hours when he spoke to the BBC on Tuesday.

Neighbourhoods like this one in Pflugerville faced many hours without electricity

image copyrightReuters

He said his family had slept beside the fireplace covered in “every blanket and pillow we could find in the house”. He tried local hotels, but they were either fully booked or did not have electricity.

Icy roads have also led to a spate of traffic accidents and people have been advised to avoid travel where possible.

line
Banner saying 'Get in touch'

How are you coping with the freezing conditions where you are? Tell us by emailing: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Stocks could be stuck in a range until there’s more proof reopenings are reviving the economy

KEY POINTS Progress in state reopenings is foremost on investors’ minds and stocks could be choppy until there’s some sense the reopenings are helping...

Does Netflix Live Up to the Hype?

Does Netflix Live Up to the Hype?The Netflix culture is now pervasive in the United States, and it is being viewed as a...

Marc Narrie CEO of Buddha Beans: using CBG/CBD infused Coffee to make sure you #staygrounded

CBD oil, CBD brownies, CBD gummies, CBD soap… We've seen it all. But how about CBD/CBG infused coffee beans which you can brew at...

Victory in final India Test would cap ‘unbelievable’ winter for England – Crawleyon March 2, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Opener Zak Crawley says there is "definitely a way back" for England as they chase victory in the final Test and a series draw.Opener...

U.S. jobless claims climb 3.8 million in late April to push coronavirus total to 30 million

The numbers: Some 3.8 million American workers who just lost their jobs applied last week for unemployment benefits, bringing a record number of layoffs during...