Close to 70 dead in states with severe winter weather: report
While temperatures are already on the rise in Texas and other states battered by this week’s severe winter weather, the freezing temperatures and extreme conditions have left approximately 70 people dead, and many more without power and potable drinking water.
The Associated Press reported the updated death toll Friday, including fatalities across the country from car crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning, drownings, house fires and hypothermia.
In Fort Worth, Texas, ambulance provider MedStar has continued to receive reports of hypothermia, most of which were from people in their own homes, according to the AP. The emergency provider reached a peak of 77 hypothermia calls on Wednesday.
Authorities suspect that the death of an 11-year-old boy in his bed in Conroe, near Houston, Tuesday was likely caused by hypothermia after his family’s home lost power amid the storm.
The New York Times reported Saturday that 75-year-old Carrol Anderson, an Army veteran who breathed with the help of oxygen tanks, died in Crosby, Texas, after the electricity in his home that powers his main tank went out during the storm.
As people across Texas and other states attempt to find warmth, some have turned to sitting in their running cars or next to generators, prompting a series of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
On Saturday, a 68-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman in Louisiana died from carbon monoxide poisoning after they placed a generator in their camper to keep warm, according to the state’s health department.
Amid the fallout from the weather, President Biden has approved states of emergency in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. On Saturday, the White House announced that Biden had issued a major disaster declaration for Texas, allowing for the Lone Star state to receive additional federal resources to address widespread blackouts and water shortages.
However, the South, and Texas in particular, still face uphill battles.
While millions of Texans’ power on Friday was restored, more than 40,000 people in Texas remained without power Saturday evening, according to poweroutage.us.
Many in Texas and Louisiana are also now facing a lack of safe drinking water and are under orders by local authorities to boil their tap water prior to drinking it. Record low temperatures in the state have damaged pipes that carry the water supply, jeopardizing the drinking water systems.
As states attempt to bounce back from the crisis, warmer temperatures on Saturday provided some relief following days of freezing temperatures.
The AP reported that the warm-up was expected to last several days in Texas, with the sun up in Dallas by the afternoon and temperatures nearing 50 degrees.
While CNN reported that a weak cold front in Texas is projected for Sunday evening, it is not expected to bring the same level of harsh conditions Texans experienced this week.
The deaths as a result of the winter storm and the subsequent widespread power outages have led to scrutiny on Texas’ preparedness for the extreme weather conditions.
A report this week from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation said that electricity-generating companies in the state “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” specifically citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations.
Five Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also wrote in a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday stating that “the events of this week demonstrate that there are significant shortcomings in preparations and more must be done to protect communities disproportionately impacted by winter power outages.”
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