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How a winter storm pushed Texas into crisis

As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state, much of Texas’ power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems. Tens of millions huddled in frigid homes that slowly grew colder or fled for safety. And a prideful state, long suspicious of regulation and outside help, was left to seek aid from other states and humanitarian groups as many of its 29 million people grasped for survival.

February 22, 2021 / 07:13 PM IST
Two days before the storm began, Houston’s chief elected official warned her constituents to prepare as they would for a major hurricane. Many took heed: Texans who could stocked up on food and water, while nonprofits and government agencies set out to help those who couldn’t. But few foresaw the fiasco that was to come. (Image: AP)
Two days before the storm began, Houston’s chief elected official warned her constituents to prepare as they would for a major hurricane. Many took heed: Texans who could stocked up on food and water, while nonprofits and government agencies set out to help those who couldn’t. But few foresaw the fiasco that was to come. (Image: AP)
As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state, much of Texas’ power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems. Tens of millions huddled in frigid homes that slowly grew colder or fled for safety. And a prideful state, long suspicious of regulation and outside help, was left to seek aid from other states and humanitarian groups as many of its 29 million people grasped for survival. (Image: AP)
As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state, much of Texas’ power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems. Tens of millions huddled in frigid homes that slowly grew colder or fled for safety. And a prideful state, long suspicious of regulation and outside help, was left to seek aid from other states and humanitarian groups as many of its 29 million people grasped for survival. (Image: AP)
At one hospital, workers stood outside to collect rainwater. Others stood in line at a running tap in a park. A mother of three took her children to shelter in a furniture store after she could see her breath forming in the family’s trailer. University professors fundraised so their students could afford meals. (Image: AP)
At one hospital, workers stood outside to collect rainwater. Others stood in line at a running tap in a park. A mother of three took her children to shelter in a furniture store after she could see her breath forming in the family’s trailer. University professors fundraised so their students could afford meals. (Image: AP)
Ambulances line up outside of St. David's South Austin Medical Center in preparation to transport patients in Austin, Texas, on February 17. Hospitals across the South grappled with water shortages, February 21, as the region carried on with recovery efforts in the wake of a devastating winter storm, and the weather offered a balmy respite — temperatures as high as the mid-60s. (Image: AP)
Ambulances line up outside of St. David's South Austin Medical Center in preparation to transport patients in Austin, Texas, on February 17. Hospitals across the South grappled with water shortages, February 21, as the region carried on with recovery efforts in the wake of a devastating winter storm, and the weather offered a balmy respite — temperatures as high as the mid-60s. (Image: AP)
Images of desperate Texans circulated worldwide. To some, they evoked comparisons to a less wealthy or self-regarding place. To others, they laid bare problems that have long festered. (Image: AP)
Images of desperate Texans circulated worldwide. To some, they evoked comparisons to a less wealthy or self-regarding place. To others, they laid bare problems that have long festered. (Image: AP)
The state’s Republican leadership was blamed for ignoring warnings that winter could wreak the havoc that it did, and for not providing local officials with enough information to protect residents now. A lack of regulations to protect critical infrastructure and failure by officials to take recommended steps to winterize equipment left the nation’s largest energy-producing state unprepared for last week's weather emergency. (Image: AP)
The state’s Republican leadership was blamed for ignoring warnings that winter could wreak the havoc that it did, and for not providing local officials with enough information to protect residents now. A lack of regulations to protect critical infrastructure and failure by officials to take recommended steps to winterize equipment left the nation’s largest energy-producing state unprepared for last week's weather emergency. (Image: AP)
A volunteer carries food to be distributed during the Neighborhood Super Site food distribution event organized by the Houston Food Bank and HISD, February 21, in Houston. (Image: AP)
A volunteer carries food to be distributed during the Neighborhood Super Site food distribution event organised by the Houston Food Bank and HISD, February 21, in Houston. (Image: AP)
A week after she warned her county’s nearly 5 million residents about the impending storm, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was sleeping on an air mattress at the county’s emergency operations center. Her home was without power for three nights. (Image: AP)
A week after she warned her county’s nearly 5 million residents about the impending storm, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was sleeping on an air mattress at the county’s emergency operations centre. Her home was without power for three nights. (Image: AP)
“It’s worth asking the question: Who set up this system and who perpetuated it knowing that the right regulation was not in place?” Hidalgo said. “Those questions are going to have to be asked and I hope that changes will come. The community deserves answers.” (Image: AP)
“It’s worth asking the question: Who set up this system and who perpetuated it knowing that the right regulation was not in place?” Hidalgo said. “Those questions are going to have to be asked and I hope that changes will come. The community deserves answers.” (Image: AP)
Power outages spiraled through the day, ultimately cutting off more than 4 million people. Grocery stores shut down, and hotel rates skyrocketed. (Image: AP)
Power outages spiraled through the day, ultimately cutting off more than 4 million people. Grocery stores shut down, and hotel rates skyrocketed. (Image: AP)
People who fled to the homes of relatives or neighbors had to consider the risks of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. (Image: AP)
People who fled to the homes of relatives or neighbors had to consider the risks of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. (Image: AP)
Frozen pipes burst across the state. And the water that did come out of taps was often undrinkable due to dangerously low water pressure levels. At one point, an estimated 13 million people were under a boil-water order, nearly half of Texas’ population. (Image: AP)
Frozen pipes burst across the state. And the water that did come out of taps was often undrinkable due to dangerously low water pressure levels. At one point, an estimated 13 million people were under a boil-water order, nearly half of Texas’ population. (Image: AP)
In this February 19 photo, water is loaded into cars at a City of Houston water distribution site in Houston. The drive-thru stadium location was setup to provide bottled water to individuals who need water while the city remains on a boil water notice or because they lack water at home due to frozen or broken pipes. (Image: AP)
In this February 19 photo, water is loaded into cars at a City of Houston water distribution site in Houston. The drive-thru stadium location was setup to provide bottled water to individuals who need water while the city remains on a boil water notice or because they lack water at home due to frozen or broken pipes. (Image: AP)
Associated Press
first published: Feb 22, 2021 07:13 pm

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