3.5 million freezing Texas residents are still without power
The cold spell has already pushed snow cover to an all time high across the 48 states in North America. Official data shows snow currently covers 73.2 per cent of the area with an average depth of 6 inches; a year ago just 35.5 per cent was covered with an average of 4.6 inches of snow.
Several cities had record lows: In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 39 degrees Celsius). Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26 Fahrenheit (minus 26 degrees Celsius).
Utilities from Minnesota to Texas implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity.
Anger over Texas’ power grid failing in the face of a record winter freeze mounted Tuesday as millions of residents in the energy capital of the U.S. remained shivering with no assurances that their electricity and heat — out for 36 hours or longer in many homes — would return soon or stay on once it finally does.
‘I know people are angry and frustrated,’ said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who woke up to more than 1 million people still without power in his city. ‘So am I.’
Amber Nichols, whose north Austin home has had no power since early Monday, said: ‘We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death. This is a complete bungle.’
Texas freeze exposes cold, dark heart of America in which everything is now political
As millions of Texans struggled without heat or electricity due to a freak winter storm, social media exploded with partisan mockery, selective solidarity and even calls for “class war.” If this is unity, the USA is doomed.
At least two people have died and more than four million have been left without power amid rolling blackouts in the state not used to anywhere near this much snow – with more snow and ice on the way, according to forecasts.
“Snow doesn’t fall to cover the hills, but to show the tracks of every beast,” goes an old Serbian saying. The tracks that showed up after snow and ice blanketed Texas and much of the Midwest have revealed the rough beast of American solidarity – or lack thereof.
Since Texas is run by a Republican governor, it didn’t take long for some of the Twitterati to mock the state as being worse off than “blue” states, meaning those run by Democrats such as California or New York.
Others dug up tweets by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Dan Crenshaw, mocking them for criticizing the August 2020 blackouts in California as the fruit of Democrat rule.
While whataboutism may seem fair here, Cruz and Crenshaw didn’t mock the Californians themselves, but their leadership who couldn’t keep the lights on – through a heatwave fairly typical for summer in their state, unlike what happened in Texas. Their critics made no such distinctions.
“As a Texan” began trending on Tuesday, and among the top results was a thread by someone named ‘Molly B. Snackin,’ who urged everyone to keep in mind that Texans are “not all crazy,” as almost 47 percent of them are – Democrats.
“I live in San Antonio. We have a democratic mayor and largely voted for Biden,” she wrote, adding that they’re working to turn Texas blue but it’s going slower than she wants. In another tweet, she said she was “hoping that this latest disaster will be a catalyst to get rid of [Governor] Abbott in 2022.”
How the US energy powerhouse failed its residents
The governor of Texas called for the leaders of his state’s energy board to resign on Tuesday night, as five million people in the state were left shivering without power amid a record-breaking cold snap.
Texas is the only state in the lower 48 with its own electrical grid, ERCOT, while only two other grids, the Eastern Interconnection and the Western Interconnection, serve the rest of the contiguous United States.
The state opted to run its own power system due to suspicion of the federal authorities, The Austin American Statesman explained.
Greg Abbott, the Republican governor, on Tuesday announced an investigation into ERCOT, and rounded on the leaders – several of whom, it emerged, did not even live in the state.
‘The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,’ said Abbott in a statement.
‘Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.’
Almost four million homes in the state were without power on Tuesday.