Residents in Wills Point, Texas hunker down in homes to stay warm during the state's rolling blackouts. Towns and neighborhoods remain empty. Photo credit: Matthew T. Rader on Unsplash

Frigid temperatures break down Texas infrastructure, reports of contaminated water, unreliable power, and dwindling gas

Water supplies is compromised in counties throughout the Lone Star State as Texas continues to experience extreme winter weather.

Texans face another hard freeze tonight without reliable power, if any at all. Now, another major issue in its infrastructure weighs heavily on emergency efforts to restore power after days-long outages due to historic cold temperatures.

“There’s a growing number of people in Houston . . . even small towns around Texas like Baytown and Texas, they’ve cut off the water completely,” reported rapper Bun B on his Instagram page.

The freezing cold caused thousands of Texans’ pipes to burst. Because a cold snap like the one ripping Texas is rare, many homes are not insulated for harsh winters. While residents have been desperately trying to save their homes by keeping their taps on a slow drip, the Governor’s office and local authorities have asked Texans to refrain from running their water.

“Burst water pipes can cause major damage to your home. They can also slow efforts to fully restore water to our city,” tweeted the Houston Office of Emergency Management in the city’s effort to reduce water usage.

Added to the rapidly limited water supply is drinkable water. After rolling water outages accompanied intermittent power failures, state and local officials warned Texans to boil the water that they use to shower, drink or brush their teeth. To date, only 135 labs for the whole state are testing to see if the water is drinkable.

But, residents already are reporting undrinkable water with down water treatment plants. “Do not drink the water,” implores residents in Texas who report that their water is filled with parasites and other harmful contaminants since power outages have affected water treatment plants across the state.

With many roads still not passable, and most grocery stores closed, gaining access to potable water is dwindling fast.

On Monday, the City of Houston announced a partnership with CrowdSource Resource to begin a water delivery service for residents who cannot pick up bottled water at the distribution sites they set up.

. . . .

With the ongoing freezing temperatures, residents who want to leave are stuck. If they could drive, reports of limited gas supplies across the state are an issue. Many people are sleeping in their cars for heat, but this also causes a risk. “People are dying here,” said Bun B during his stream. “People are dying of carbon monoxide . . .  thousands of people are sleeping in their cars.”

Even if families are taking safety measures while sleeping in their vehicles, with reports of limited gas, that might be a problem if power failures persist in the cold winter weather. Ironically, Texas is an oil baron state. In an update on the state’s response, Governor Greg Abbott “ordered natural gas producers not to export product out of state until February 21st and instead sell it to providers within Texas.” State officials say they are also looking for other water testing labs and water safety organizations to partner with to resolve issues with water.

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