Texas Under Unprecedented Winter Storm, Biden Approves Emergency

By Prakash Gogoi | February 16, 2021
Prakash covers news and politics for Vision Times.

President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration in the state of Texas given the extreme winter weather battering the region. All 254 counties are currently under emergency. Responding to requests for federal assistance put forward by state Governor Greg Abbott, Biden has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide assistance to the relief efforts undertaken by local and state authorities. Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization that runs the state’s power grid, is conducting rolling blackouts to conserve power. Abbott has announced that he has deployed maximum state resources to local officials to aid in the relief efforts and restore power in all communities. The National Guard has been put in place to help authorities transition citizens who might be in need of one of the 135 warming centers established across the state. The National Guard is also conducting welfare checks. Necessary personnel and resources have been pooled to clear up roadways and aid essential care workers to carry out operations without hindrances.

Ducks sit in the snow under a bench in Houston, Texas on February 15, 2021. – Much of the United States was in the icy grip of an “unprecedented” winter storm on February 15 as frigid Arctic air sent temperatures plunging, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, making driving hazardous and leaving millions without power in Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the White House has issued a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas in response to severe winter weather across the state. (Image: Mark Felix / AFP) (Image: MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power… ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible,” Governor Abbott said in a statement.

Unprecedented Winter Storm in Texas

Over 5 million people from Texas to North Dakota are estimated to be in the dark as officials desperately try to avoid a complete grid collapse. The reason for the massive power outage in Texas lies in the fact that the region’s power grid has been designed for hot summers rather than cold winters. The current winter storm hit the electricity supply’s weak points.

Power plants with a combined production capacity of 34 gigawatts have been forced offline. Around 50 percent of Texas’ wind power capacity is also now idle. Over a million barrels a day of oil production is currently shut down. Refineries have shut gasoline production. Meanwhile, medical centers are trying to get as many people injected with the COVID-19 (CCP Virus) vaccines before they go bad. 

The below freezing temperatures are expected to last until Friday, after which respite will come in the form of sunny skies according to KHOU-11’s weather prediction. ERCOT has advised people to minimize energy consumption as much as possible. It was recommended to close all shades and blinds in the living areas to limit loss of heat, keep thermostats to 68 degrees or less, and only use large appliances like washing machines and ovens when absolutely necessary.

The National Weather Service issued an alert for Southeast Texas, warning people to take immediate steps to protect themselves. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion… Prepare for power outages and have non-perishable food and water on hand. Do not travel unless it is an emergency. If you must travel, keep an extra blanket, flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle, in case you become stranded,” it said in a statement.

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