People walk along the edge looking at the frozen lake at Cottonwood Park in Richardson, Texas AP/PA Images

Millions of Texans get their power back after deadly winter storm

US President Joe Biden has offered additional support through federal agencies to help authorities in Texas.

MANY OF THE millions of Texans who lost power for days after a deadly winter storm overwhelmed the electricity grid now have it back, but many people in the South are still without safe drinking water.

About 325,000 homes and businesses remained without power in Texas yesterday, down from about three million a day earlier, though utility officials said limited rolling blackouts are still possible.

The storms also left more than 450,000 people from West Virginia to Louisiana without power, while 100,000 in Oregon are still enduring a week-long outage following a massive ice and snow storm.

The snow and ice moved into the Appalachians, northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, and later into the north-east as the extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 56 people.

In the Houston area, a family died from carbon monoxide as their car idled in their garage. A woman and her three grandchildren were killed in a fire that authorities said might have been caused by a fireplace they were using.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas used rolling blackouts to ease strained power grids.

However, the remaining Texas outages were mostly weather-related, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Rotating outages for Texas could return if electricity demand rises as power and heating returns, said Dan Woodfin, the council’s senior director of system operations.

Texas governor Greg Abbott warned that state residents “are not out of the woods”, with temperatures still well below freezing state-wide, while south central Texas is threatened by a winter storm and disruptions in food supply chains.

Adding to the state’s misery, the weather jeopardised drinking water systems.

Authorities ordered seven million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it, following the record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and pipes.

Water pressure dropped after lines froze, with many people leaving taps dripping to prevent pipes from icing up, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Abbott urged residents to shut off water to prevent more burst pipes and preserve municipal system pressure.

US president Joe Biden said he called Abbott yesterday evening and offered additional support from the federal government to state and local agencies.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said residents will probably have to boil tap water in the fourth-largest US city until Sunday or Monday.

Federal emergency officials sent generators to support water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes in Texas, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, officials said. The Texas Restaurant Association is coordinating food donations to hospitals.

Meanwhile, about 260,000 homes and businesses in Tennessee’s largest county, which includes Memphis, were told to boil water after cold temperatures led to water main ruptures and problems at pumping stations.

And in Jackson, Mississippi, mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said most of the city of about 150,000 was without water Thursday night.

Crews are pumping water to refill city tanks but faced a shortage of chemicals to treat the water, she said, adding: “We are dealing with an extreme challenge with getting more water through our distribution system.”

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