1.2M in Houston area lack power; residents asked to conserve electricity, water

Buffalo Bayou park coated in snow and ice
Some 1.2 million in Houston the region are without power, and residents with power are asked to conserve electricity and water. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Some 1.2 million in Houston the region are without power, and residents with power are asked to conserve electricity and water. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Some 1.2 million households in the Houston region are without power Feb. 15 as the area is dealing with frigid temperatures and a coating of snow and ice.

The outages are no longer the result of planned, rolling blackouts from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state agency tasked with managing electricity flow, but weather-induced conditions and high demand. Wind turbines and a nuclear power plant supplying some of the area’s power were shut down due to the conditions, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

“We will need to have a serious conversation as to why we are where we are today, but where we are today is getting through the next 36 hours ... these are not rolling blackouts; these are power outages at a huge, unprecedented scale,” Turner said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott posted an update on Twitter confirming the issue.

Power could remain out through much of the day and into tomorrow, Turner said. Those with power are encouraged to conserve as much as possible to help ease the burden on the electrical grids and return power more quickly. To do so, residents are encouraged to keep household temperatures below 70 and avoid using heavy appliances.

The city is operating multiple warming centers, including one at the George R. Brown Convention center that is reaching capacity serving close to 500 people. Two other warming centers lost power and were relocated, said George Buenik, Houston director of the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Heat safety

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said the department’s call volume is up 50% mostly due to EMS calls.

To prevent fire damage or carbon monoxide poisoning, Peña reminded residents to keep anything heated by gas, propane or charcoal, such as grills, outside of the home. If turning a car on, drivers must keep garage doors open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning as well, Peña said.

Water pressure

As of 1 p.m. Feb. 15, the city of Houston was not reporting low water pressure or issuing a boil water notice.

“You don’t have to be doing laundry at this point. Conserve water to keep the water pressure up and prevent a boil water advisory,” Peña said.

The Houston Public Works Department posted an update on Twitter explaining the need to conserve water.

By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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