Gov. Greg Abbott: Power restored to nearly 2M homes in past day; statewide aid efforts continuing

Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on the state's emergency response efforts during a Feb. 18 press conference. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on the state's emergency response efforts during a Feb. 18 press conference. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on the state's emergency response efforts during a Feb. 18 press conference. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Residential power losses due to generation issues have been ended for most customers throughout Texas, while statewide distribution of essential supplies such as water and food is continuing, Gov. Greg Abbott said Feb. 18.

In his second televised press conference this week in the wake of severe winter weather that has disrupted Texas's electric grid, supply chains and some water utility services, Abbott provided updates on the state's ongoing emergency efforts and plans to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

"Everyone knows how challenging the past few days have been for our fellow Texans. I want everyone to know that all of us in the state of Texas believe it is completely unacceptable that you had to endure one minute of the challenge that you faced," Abbott said. "All of us agree on the necessity of action, not just the action taken to restore your power, but the action to ensure that you never have to endure anything like this ever again."

Power restoration, improvements

Abbott said power has now been restored to nearly 2 million homes since his Feb. 17 press conference. Localized power system failures, rather than the larger generation issues responsible for this week's widespread blackouts, are to blame for continuing outages affecting approximately 325,000 Texans, Abbott said. And while the state is not responsible for problems such as downed power lines or individual connection issues, he said power companies have informed him every available repair truck is now working to resolve those issues.


"We hope and anticipate no location will be without power tonight. The good news is we are starting the evening with every residence in the state of Texas not lacking the generation of power," he said. "Texas agencies will continue to work around the clock with our local partners, with the residential areas, with industrial and commercial users, until power is restored to every single location across the state.”

Abbott also criticized the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, for its role in this week's power crisis. While Abbott and other state lawmakers have already called for investigations into the electric grid management this week, the governor said Feb. 18 that he wants the state Legislature to further investigate ERCOT's management—and its inclusion of nonresident board members—as well as the scope of the company's warnings to power generators earlier this month and the truthfulness of ERCOT's claims about the power grid status this week.

“We’ve got two things to look at: Is it true that ERCOT was on the verge of losing access to power in the grid, which could have caused a long-term blackout in the state of Texas?" Abbott said. "If it’s not true, then there are serious consequences because of that. If it is true, there is serious action that needs to be taken by the state of Texas."

Abbott also said he will add more emergency items for the Texas Legislature to consider, including the mandating and funding of winterization updates to the Texas power system. Abbott said he has already discussed those items with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dave Phelan and relevant legislative committee chairs.

Additional aid

Water system issues, including a lack of safe drinking water prompting boil-water notices throughout Texas, have also become priorities for the state's disaster response this week, officials said.

Abbott said he is considering new executive orders that could help speed the distribution of clean water to Texans in need, while officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are also evaluating how best to address these water challenges.

W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, urged continued water conservation as possible while his office works with partners to restore service for residents, and industrial and agricultural customers.

"The place we are right now with almost every single water institution impacted, not only from the frozen lines in our homes, but the frozen lines in the streets that are running institutional water, water will continue to be a challenge," Kidd said. "We need to continue to conserve water, we need to be careful with the use of water, and together we’ll get through the water challenges.”

In addition to drinking water issues, Abbott also said he submitted a request for a major disaster declaration in the state from President Joe Biden. If granted, it will allow Texans whose property has been damaged due to burst water pipes to apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency when not covered by private insurance, he said.

Officials also highlighted the lack of food many Texans may still be facing. Improving road conditions are expected to help supplies reach restaurants and grocery stores over the next day, Abbott said, and the state is also working with local food banks and state-based agencies to provide food to those in need.

For anyone wishing to contribute resources to food supply efforts, Abbott also highlighted the Feeding Texas organization and American Red Cross as entities to work with or donate to.

"We’re going to keep pushing food into this state. I ask, though, that we not hoard food. This is going to get to the point where you take what we need, and we will work through this together," Kidd said.

Officials also said more than 300 warming centers remain open in Texas, and more are expected to be brought online this week. Warming center locations may be found at www.tdem.texas.gov/warm.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2019 as a reporter for The Woodlands area and began working as Austin's City Hall reporter in April 2021.


MOST RECENT

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 has begun construction on the first of three phases for its new 43-acre, state-of-the-art campus located in Spring, according to a May 7 news release. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 begins construction on new 43-acre campus

The campus will house ESD No. 11's new ambulance service, which is scheduled to launch Sept. 4 when the district's contract with current service provider, Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, expires.

FM 2978 has been under construction since 2018.
(Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Work on FM 2978 continues with expected completion date this summer

The project, begun in 2018, is expected to wrap in the second quarter of 2021.

Tomball Star Academy will celebrate its senior class May 27 with a graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Magnolia Event Center, according to district information. Students will graduate virtually from LSC-Tomball on May 13, according to LSCS information. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'They’ve created the legacy:' Inaugural class to graduate May 27 from Tomball ISD's early college high school program

The inaugural class of 95 students has been instrumental in paving the way for the students yet to finish the program, said Kelly Marchiando, the principal of Tomball Star Academy since January.

The Texas Department of State Health Services projects a significant shortage of nurses by 2032. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Why Texas faces a growing nursing shortage and what can be done to address it

In 2018, the state health department estimated about 11% of the demand for nurses was not able to be met, and that number is expected to rise to 16.3% by 2032.

Photos in the home of Barbara and the late Don Gebert show the couple and other family members over their decades together. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
Don Gebert, founder of Interfaith of The Woodlands, remembered in The Woodlands

A celebration of life service for Don Gebert will be held June 12 at Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

Two new stores came to The Woodlands Mall in April. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Two new stores open in The Woodlands Mall through April

Casper and TravisMatthew joined the mall's offerings April 9 and April 23 respectively.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens in Magnolia; get a sneak peek of new Houston aquarium and more metro news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

(Courtesy Third Coast Organic Foods)
Third Coast Organic Foods launches e-commerce business

The business sells sugar-free organic wine vinaigrette salad dressings.

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member. (Courtesy Fire Smart, LLC)
Fire Smart, LLC celebrates one year of providing fire safety education across Greater Houston area

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens on FM 1488 in Magnolia

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia.