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Warmer temperatures bring relief as cold-weary southern US begins cleanup

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Warmer temperatures spread across the southern United States on Saturday, bringing some relief to a winter-tired region facing difficult clean-up and costly repairs after days of extreme cold and outages. generalized current.

In hard-hit Texas, where millions of people were warned to boil tap water before drinking, the warming was expected to last for several days.

The fallout included broken water pipes and drinking water shortages, the closure of the Memphis airport and hospitals struggling to maintain sanitary conditions.

Linda Nguyen woke up in a Dallas hotel room on Saturday morning with an assurance she hadn’t had in nearly a week that she and her cat have a place to sleep with electricity and the water.

Power was restored to her apartment on Wednesday but on Thursday evening Nguyen, a 27-year-old woman who works in real estate, returned from work to find a soaked carpet. A pipe had burst in his room. It’s essentially unlivable, she says. Everything is completely ruined.

At least 69 deaths have been attributed to the weather, including one of a man at a health facility in Abilene where lack of water pressure made medical treatment impossible.

Authorities have also reported deaths from hypothermia, including homeless people and people inside buildings without electricity or heating. Others have died in car crashes on icy roads or from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. A Tennessee farmer died trying to save two calves from a frozen pond.

President Joe Bidens’ office said on Saturday it had declared a major disaster in Texas, asking federal agencies to help with the recovery.

See: How to Help Texas: Where to Donate to Help People Without Power, Heat, and Water as Extreme Cold Hits the South

About 260,000 homes and businesses in Tennessee County, which includes Memphis, have been asked to boil water due to mainline ruptures and pumping station problems. Restaurants that couldn’t or didn’t have bottled water were ordered to close.

Water pressure issues prompted Memphis International Airport to cancel all inbound and outbound flights on Friday, but the passenger terminal was scheduled to reopen by mid-afternoon on Saturday.

The storms left more than 300,000 people still without power across the country on Saturday morning, many in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 50,000 Oregon electricity customers went without power on Saturday, more than a week after an ice storm ravaged the power grid. Portland General Electric had hoped to have electricity for all but 15,000 customers by Friday night, but the utility discovered additional damage in areas previously inaccessible.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has asked the National Guard to go door-to-door in some areas to check on the well-being of residents. The worst ice storm in 40 years cut power to more than 350,000 residents at its peak.

In Jackson, Mississippi, most of the city of about 161,000 people lacked running water. Crews pumped water to fill the city’s reservoirs, but faced a shortage of chemicals to process as icy roads made it difficult to deliver from dispensers to dispensers, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. .

He said the city’s water pipes are over 100 years old and not built to withstand the freezing weather that hit the city as multiple storms dumped record amounts of snow in the south.

We are facing an extreme challenge of getting more water into our distribution system, Lumumba said. The town provided water for flushing toilets and for drinking, but residents had to collect it, leaving the elderly and those living on icy roads vulnerable.

Lisa Thomas said her entry on a hill in Jackson was a sheet of ice. Her husband, who uses a defibrillator and a heart monitor, has only enough heart medicine to get her through Sunday because she couldn’t make it to the pharmacy. People are in need here, Thomas said.

Paul Lee Davis led the way at a water station set up by city officials to drain the water. He was still waiting for it to be restocked three and a half hours after his arrival.

We need water, the stores are all exhausted. I don’t see what choice we have, Davis said. Water problems were the last misery for southerners who went without heat or electricity for days after ice and snowstorms forced power outages from Minnesota to Texas.

Texas power grid operators said electricity transmission returned to normal after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created an increase in demand that distorted the state system. Smaller blackouts remained, but Bill Magness, chairman of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the grid can now provide power throughout the system.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered an investigation into the failure of a state known as America’s energy capital. ERCOT officials have defended their preparations and the decision to begin forced blackouts on Monday as the network reached breaking point.

The continued power outages culminated in a lawsuit filed Friday in a Nueces County court in Corpus Christi, claiming that ERCOT had ignored repeated warnings of weaknesses in the states’ electrical infrastructure. A Dallas law firm alleged that ERCOT and the U.S. Electricity Utility caused property damage and business disruption during the cold snap.

Additionally, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has made requests for a civil investigation against ERCOT and the electric utility companies, vowing to get to the bottom of this blackout. The investigation will cover power outages, contingency plans, energy pricing and more related to the winter storm.

The large-scale failure of Texas power companies to weather the winter storm left several million Texans without power or heat during deadly and record-breaking temperatures across the state, the Paxtons office said in a statement. .

In many areas, water pressure has dropped after pipes froze and people let faucets drip to prevent pipes from icing, authorities said.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 1,300 public water systems in Texas and 159 counties had reported weather-related operational disruptions affecting more than 14.9 million people, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Tiffany Young.

More than a million gallons (3.8 million liters) of water were trucked Friday to the Texas capital. But Austins’ water director Greg Maszaros has pleaded with residents to minimize the use of household faucets, as there are still a lot of unknowns as we pressurize the system.

In Dallas, David Lopez said the plumbing company he works for received more than 600 service calls in the past week. It’s pretty much first-come, first-serve, Lopez said, as he and a colleague roughed up a new water heater from their van on Friday. Everyone has emergencies.

Houstonians will likely have to boil tap water until Sunday or Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Water service was restored to two Methodist community hospitals in Houston on Friday, but officials were still bringing clean water and some elective surgeries were canceled, spokeswoman Gale Smith said.

St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis said it was being forced to switch to bottled drinking water and bagged ice and that staff and patients were washing with hand sanitizer and leave-in bath wipes. All elective surgeries have been postponed.

Rhodes College in Memphis said on Friday that around 700 residential students were being moved to hotels in the suburbs of Germantown and Collierville after schools’ bathrooms shut down due to low water pressure.

Central Arkansas Water in the Little Rock area asked customers to conserve water to help protect its system as the ground began to heat up and the pipes thawed. The city of Hot Springs warned Thursday night that its water supply was extremely low and also asked customers to save money.

A broken pipe at the Little Rock Discovery Museum flooded its building, causing extensive damage to theaters, galleries and offices and killing an exhibit animal, a blue-tongued skink lizard.

More than 192,000 Louisiana residents, with some still struggling to recover from the last hurricane in August, Laura had no water service on Friday, according to the state’s health department. Tens of thousands more remained on boil water advisories.

Bulk and bottled water deliveries were planned for the hardest hit areas, with a focus on hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, adding that he hoped the warmer weather forecast over the weekend would speed up repairs.

In the Louisiana hackberry community, Nicole Beard said her boyfriend crawled under her house trying to fix a broken water pipe, but couldn’t because he didn’t have the right parts and he was too dark. She was using bottled water and sent her two daughters to another house. People are still struggling here, she said.

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