Austin – Slow Motion Winter disaster The hitting Texas that began with snow, ice, and widespread blackouts is now moving into a new phase: an acute shortage of food and fresh water.
Supermarkets chains that had remained open in past disasters have closed in the face of power outages and impassable roads. Cities like Houston and Austin are found citywide Water boil commands, Even though many homes don’t have electricity. And open stores often lined up empty shelves, as delivery trucks struggle to reach them via still-icy roads.
Joe Giovanoli, 29, arrived at the Central Market in Austin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, an hour and a half before it opened. Minutes later, more than 200 people lined up behind him in severe 26-degree weather.
Giovanoli’s wife is three months pregnant and the energy dwindled in their one-bedroom apartment in Austin on Tuesday night. He said that after a water pipe was broken, firefighters also turned off the building’s water. Giovanoli said he realized he still had better than many Others across TexasBut worry about how long it will take for things to return to normal.
This will be the next stage After defrosting thingsHe said, looking at the long row that was forming behind him. “It was mentally insulting.”
Johnny Latoff, 62, owner of Skylark Lounge, one of East Austin’s well-known blues club, was among those waiting in line behind him. Latov’s house never lost power, but his ex-wife, son, two daughters and their families lost power and moved in with him: 10 people, five dogs and one turtle in total.
Latov said he wished the local leaders and leaders had better warn people of the impending disaster. For now, he’s been hoping to get milk and some canned goods to get him and his clan over the next few days.
He said, “It is really important to be in contact with your family and neighbors.” “This is what makes you skip this.”
A few minutes before the store opened its doors, a manager stepped outside and warned those waiting in line that the supplies inside were running low: no products, no baked goods, and not much canned food.
He said, “We did not receive any delivery within four days.”
More than 33,000 homes were without electricity on Thursday and thousands of people had no access to clean water, said Lena Hidalgo, Harris County executive judge in Harris County, the largest in Texas with a population of nearly 5 million. When The Department of Public Health in Harris County has been out of power Then the generator failed, she said, and officials had to save more than 8,000 vaccines from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“He’s definitely a jostle,” Hidalgo said. “This is something that will take us a few days to recover from.”
Texas officials ordered 7 million people across the state to boil tap water before drinking it, after days of record low temperatures that shut down water treatment plants and froze pipes. At least two hospitals in the Austin area lost water pressure and heat, and one was forced to evacuate some patients. More than thirty deaths across the United States over the past few days have been blamed on the severe weather.
As of early Thursday, more than 450,000 homes and businesses are across Texas He was left without electricity, Down from a peak of more than 4 million earlier in the week. Federal Emergency Management Agency Advertise It plans to deploy more than 700,000 liters of bottled water, more than 60,000 blankets and industrial-scale generators to help hospitals with energy and other vital structures.
But the immediate shortage of supplies made the difficult situation more difficult.
“This storm is affirming our entire community in ways we’ve never seen before,” Austin City Director Spencer Kronk told a news conference on Thursday.
All over Texas confined to icy roads and lacking energy and water ventured to stores only to find long lines wrapping around the building or shelves devoid of essential items, such as milk, bread and bottled water.
According to its website, HEB stores, which are known to remain reliably open during most disasters, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017, have had to close or reduce the hours of many of their stores this week due to blackouts. As of Thursday, 10 stores in the chain of supermarkets, which includes the Central Market, in Central Texas remained closed.
Getting food to those in need has been a struggle across the state. Workers and volunteers at the San Antonio Food Bank used to deliver groceries and takeaways to evacuees from other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in southern Louisiana and people evacuated from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Eric Cooper, the organization’s president and CEO, said the two were never assigned to deliver food while in a disaster. Since the winter storm arrived on Sunday, he said, volunteers have been unable to come and delivery trucks have been paralyzed.
“In some ways it was just a paralysis,” he said. “It’s hard to get our trucks on the road, it’s tough to get employees. We are probably working 30% of what we normally do.”
Cooper said the Food Bank has collaborated with San Antonio police and firefighters to bring snacks and meals to residents who have run out of supplies. As soon as the roads open, he plans to develop his grocery delivery service.
“The next few days will be very critical for our city and our state,” he said.
Even with the ice melting and energy restored, the water will not immediately return to homes in the Austin area, said Greg Mesaros, Austin, the water director, during a phone call to reporters. The tanks, which hold up to 100 million gallons, need to be refilled, and water samples need to be tested for harmful bacteria before service is restored, he said.
“We have to do this in a systematic and detailed way,” said Mizaros.
Meanwhile, county officials across Texas are laying out strategies on how best to feed and bring water to those devastated by the storm.
Harris County officials have included a feature on their official website where residents can click on and see which major food stores are open. Hidalgo, the county executive, said she is more concerned about the lack of safe water in her community.
She said county officials were cleaning warehouses to search for water supplies, and emergency response officials would work to bring water to hospitals and homes after temperatures soared and lights on in homes.
“It’s not just a weather emergency,” Hidalgo said. “This is a multifaceted disaster.”
For help with food donations, visit: www.houstonfoodbank.orgOr www.safoodbank.org or www.feedingtexas.org.
Contribution: Associated Press
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