Almost 3 million Texas homes and businesses remained without power on Wednesday morning (Feb. 17) as below-freezing temperatures continue to surge through the state, CBS reports. According to multiple outlets, at least 21 people have died in multiple states since the winter storm began last week, with over seven passing away from fires or carbon monoxide poisoning from cars used to stay warm.
The unprecedented low temperatures have also given way to water shortages from frozen and burst pipes and a lack of electricity at water treatment plants. Residents’ water was restricted in Galveston, Texas on Wednesday morning after a major line break, and people in Fort Worth were instructed to boil their own water after a water treatment plant was forced to close.
Earlier in the week, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas due to the storm. The status will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to authorize emergency funds and resources to the state.
“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” a statement from the White House read. “Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also said thousands of Texas National Guardsmen have been deployed to conduct welfare checks and help vulnerable Texans get to warm shelters.
According to Dallas Morning News, state officials “have no idea” when power will be restored. On Tuesday (Feb. 16), Houston-based utility company CenterPoint Energy warned that outages could continue throughout the week.
“Due to the continued issues with power generators’ ability to produce electricity, CenterPoint Energy’s customers need to be prepared to be without power potentially for the duration of the generation shortage event, which could last several more days,” a statement from the company said.