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AFP
February 21, 2021

Americans queue for water as Biden declares Texas disaster stricken

Top Story

AFP
February 21, 2021

HOUSTON: Frustrated Texans queued for hours for safe drinking water Friday, after an unprecedented and deadly “polar plunge” burst pipes and left millions in the US state shivering without power or clean water for days, prompting President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster in Texas, clearing the way for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts in the US state.

The extreme winter weather system wreaked havoc across much of the southern and central United States this week, reportedly killing at least 40 people and igniting anger in Texas as authorities scrambled to turn the lights back on. The major disaster declaration would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide more resources and assistance, including, for example, supplementing insurance to help individuals with uncovered costs or other costs to make homes habitable. The president has also ordered federal authorities to coordinate disaster relief in Oklahoma and Louisiana, which declared emergencies after they were also hit by the extreme weather reported CNN.

Houston resident Percy McGee rated his frustration level at “number 10” as he waited his turn at the city´s Delmar Stadium, now a mass bottled water distribution site.

“I’ve been up since five o´clock. And I´ve been on the road since six. And I know it´s 11:30 but I´m gonna sit here until, I mean, I have no choice. All the stores in my area are out of water,” he told AFP. Erica Granado, another Houston resident, said she had rushed to the site after seeing it on the news.

State officials could not offer a timeline for exactly when the water would come back on. Officials there say they are working to rapidly distribute bottled water, as well as power generators, to people in need. On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state is providing “any and all resources to assist and to accelerate the response at the local level”.

On Friday the weather system was slowly moved northeast, where hardy New Englanders were battening down. But even as the National Weather Service forecast weekend weather in the 50s Fahrenheit (10-15 Celsius) — state governor Greg Abbott said some 165,000 people were still without power. The forecaster has also warned of another winter storm system is expected to bring heavy snow, freezing rain and ice.

Texas power companies implemented rolling blackouts in recent days to avoid grids being overloaded as residents cranked up the heat during the cold snap. Despite the tough scenario, some customers in Texas are facing outrageous hikes in their energy bill as a result of this week’s storm, causing one energy company to suggest that their customers find another provider with a fixed rate if prices were too extreme.