5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, Feb. 25

Ellen DeGeneres sits down with Jim 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale in an interview Wednesday. (The Ellen DeGeneres Show/YouTube)

Here are things to know for Thursday, Feb. 25:

1. ‘I’m angry too’: Abbott promises action to prevent future power grid failures

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised action to prevent a future power grid failure like the one last week that left millions of people without electricity for days as an arctic blast gripped the state.

“Tragic does not even begin to describe the devastation and the suffering that you have endured over the past week,” Abbott said as he spoke to Texans from the State Emergency Operations Center during a statewide address Wednesday.

Abbott repeated his statement that puts the onus of the crisis at the feet of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, where six board officials resigned this week. He said ERCOT assured state officials that the grid was ready for the record-setting cold and ice that swept the Lone Star State. He said the agency charged with managing the state’s electric grid should’ve acted faster to get it stabilized.

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2. $159 million in rental relief opens for Houston, Harris County renters in need

Renters in Houston and Harris County who are struggling to make ends meet because of the COVID-19 pandemic can begin applying for assistance on Thursday.

This latest round of rental assistance totals $159 million. BakerRipley and Catholic Charities will administer the program.

“This program will bring much-needed relief for those tenants who are due to pay rent,” said Cristina Cave, community relations manager for BakerRipley. “This will go back to April of last year. It will cover rent up to present.”

She said the program is for renters in the city or county who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are behind on rent or facing eviction.

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3. FEMA supersite at NRG Park to administer 6,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine daily

The FEMA supersite at NRG Park became fully operational Wednesday. The site plans to administer 126,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine over a three-week period.

“The vaccination site here at NRG Park is the largest operation we are running in Texas,” said FEMA spokeswoman Carmen Castro. “The plan is to have everyone in and out in 45 minutes.”

The massive vaccination effort comes just a day before a widely expected decision to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use.

“The more vaccines the better, the faster we get to herd immunity the faster we get back to normal,” said Doctor Linda Yancey, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Memorial Hermann.

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4. Mattress Mack to discuss winter storm recovery efforts on ‘Ellen’

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sat down Wednesday to meet with Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale virtually about his efforts to give back to Houstonians during last week’s Texas winter storm, including opening both Gallery Furniture locations as warming shelters.

Mattress Mack told DeGeneres he hoped to open both his North Freeway and Galleria locations as warming shelters on Monday, but Mayor Sylvester Turner told him to hold off until Tuesday due to snow and ice in the area. About 300 to 400 people showed up that night, so his staff had to be careful due to COVID-19 concerns.

“My parents taught me when I was a little child, the essence of living is giving. We have a saying here at Gallery Furniture that we have a responsibility for the well-being of the community,” McIngvale said. “So if something bad happens, we wanted to be the first business to act because it’s our job to help the community, not just take money out of the community.”

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5. Keough fined, has driver’s license suspended after pleading guilty to DWI

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated in connection with last year’s crash.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Holley said Keough received a 90-day suspension of his driver’s license and a $2,000 fine for his role in the Sept. 10, 2020, crash. He is also required to pay court costs.

According to court documents, Keough had high levels of zolpidem, commonly referred to as Ambien, in his system when his SUV crashed into two vehicles in The Woodlands, including a Montgomery County Precinct 5 deputy constable’s cruiser.

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