Texas power outages: Water problems mount, food runs scarce and hospitals scramble

A snowy Austin skyline as freezing temperatures continued across the state of Texas on Tuesday. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Abbott provides few details on when Texans' suffering will end as state's crises mount 

[5 a.m.] As millions of Texans continue struggling through a dayslong winter storm without power or potable water, Gov. Greg Abbott provided few details Wednesday on when they can expect their situations to improve.

As of Wednesday, 2.7 million households didn't have power. And nearly 12 million Texas are facing water disruptions after enduring multiple days of freezing temperatures.

Texans running low on food are finding empty grocery store shelves. Food pantries are running out of supplies. And the freeze has wiped out substantial portions of the state's citrus and vegetable crops. — Texas Tribune staff

Texas leaders failed to heed warnings that left the state's power grid vulnerable, experts say

[5 a.m.] Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country’s power grid, left the state alone to deal with the crisis, experts said.

While Texas Republicans were quick to pounce on renewable energy and to blame frozen wind turbines, the natural gas, nuclear and coal plants that provide most of the state’s energy also struggled to operate during the storm.

Green energy has been a political punching bag for Texas Republicans like Gov. Greg Abbott throughout the winter storm. Experts say that politicians never take responsibility for natural disasters when it comes to preparedness. — Texas Tribune staff

Hospitals in Austin are running out of water, forcing some to transfer patients

[5 a.m.] Austin-area hospitals are being affected by widespread water issues, following severe weather this week. St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said it lost water pressure from the city Wednesday, creating a series of problems.

Seton hospitals in the area are also facing water problems. A spokesperson for Ascension Seton said in a statement that “extreme weather conditions have caused intermittent water issues at several Ascension Seton" facilities.

In a letter obtained by KUT, patients and families at Dell Children’s are being asked to not take showers and to use hand sanitizer to clean their hands. They were also told the toilets can’t flush, and staff are changing linens only as needed. — Ashley Lopez, KUT