Published: 07:38 GMT, 18 February 2021 | Updated: 12:51 GMT, 18 February 2021
Hospitals in Texas were being evacuated after patients were left without water or power as the winter storm continues to leave the power grid crippled with millions still without electricity – and another storm was set to roll through.
St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and Dell Children’s Medical Center, both in Austin, Texas, are transferring patients to other hospitals, according to local news reports.
All facilities in the area are under strain with another storm set to roll through the area, meaning no hospital was able to accept a large number of transferred patients.
Ambulances line up outside of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in preparation to transport patients in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday
A patient at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is prepared for transport in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday
Texas uses its own power grid and has done since the 1970s. The energy-rich state wanted to use its own resources but also sit beyond federal energy regulation. Other states to the north of it share resources. Oklahoma has been just as affected by Winter Storm Uri but because it pools resources with neighboring states, it hasn’t run out of power
Because of the weather emergency, power outages and water failures, no one hospital can accept all of the patients that need to be transferred, according to David Huffstutler, the CEO of St. David’s HealthCare, KUT reported.
St. David’s is without water pressure and is also losing heat because water feeds the facility’s boiler.
Some even had to transport human waste in trash bags because of the lack of water, KVUE reported.
Officials with the hospitals said they were working with the city and other medical officials to transport patients home or to other facilities in the area, where possible.
Because of the weather emergency, power outages and water failures, no one hospital can accept all of the patients that need to be transferred
Seven million Texans are also under boil water notices after the deadly storm compromised water filtration systems there – a problem exacerbated by the lack of power in many homes.
Another blast of ice and snow forecast Wednesday threatened to sow more chaos, with more than three million people reported to be still without power.
Texas is even struggling to clear its roads of snow in comparison to neighboring Arkansas as yet another blast of icy weather sparked more chaos.
Footage taken by professional storm chaser Charles Peek shows cars on the Texas side of Stateline Road dealing with icy driving conditions while those on the Arkansas side drive on a cleared roadway.
Texas is even struggling to clear its side of road compared to neighboring Arkansas. Footage taken by professional storm chaser Charles Peek shows Stateline Road in Texarkana, which straddles the line between both states, on Tuesday as cars on the Texas side the street deal with icy driving conditions while those on the opposite side in Arkansas drive on a cleared roadway
Dallas, Texas: Leonel Solis and Estefani Garcia use their car to heat their home. The couple, who lost power on Sunday, have been using electricity from a neighbor’s generator and heat from their car to stay warm
Infrared imaging shows just how much power has been lost to Houston in the last few days; from February 7 to 16
Sharing the image Peek tweeted: ‘Big difference in #Arkansas and #Texas snow removal in #Texarkana’, a city that straddles both states.
His colleague Mike Seidel also posted the footage from earlier this week, writing: ‘Can you guess what state has snow plows? It’s the AR side of State Line Ave. that’s clear. The TX side is #snow covered.’
Meanwhile, it’s not just snowplows that are an issue: The race is on to restore power to millions of Texans facing subzero temperatures as stunning infrared images taken from space show just how far the blackouts have stretched.
More than three million people in the state were left without power for the fourth day in a row – and for the vast majority, it is because of forced blackouts by energy agency ERCOT.
Texas, which relies on its own electricity supply and grid, and is unprepared for winter conditions, has buckled so much so that Beto O’Rourke said on Wednesday that it was a near ‘failed state’.
Texans covered in blankets wait in line for more than an hour to fill propane tanks to heat their homes in Houston on Wednesday. Millions across the state remain without power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts
Richardson, Texas: Carlos de Jesus takes a selfie in front of the frozen fountain at the Richardson Civic Center after a second winter storm brought more snow and continued freezing temperatures to North Texas on Wednesday
Southwest Arlington, Texas: After seeing a posting on Facebook, LaDonna (no last name given) drove from Johnson County, Texas to collect some of the dumpsters-full of ice cream thrown out at a Southwest Arlington, Texas, Kroger store, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Arlington TX. LaDonna said she’s collecting the frozen goods for her neighbors. Rolling power outages this week have forced businesses to clear merchandise that needs refrigeration
The Texas city of Kyle, south of Austin, asked residents Wednesday to suspend water usage until further notice because of a shortage. ‘Water should only be used to sustain life at this point,’ the city of 45,000 said in an advisory. ‘We are close to running out of water supply in Kyle.’
Problems first began with Winter Storm Uri – an unprecedented weather system that is sweeping the country. Every other state in the storm’s path has been able to withstand it because they operate on a shared power source which means that if one state’s supply goes down, it can draw from the shared reserve.
The outages are the widest Texas’ grid has suffered – but hardly a first in winter.
Some 600,000 had power switched back on by 6am and even more were turned back on before lunchtime but millions remain in the dark and without heating. With ongoing, forced blackouts in being carried out in different parts of the state, it is difficult to track exactly how many people don’t have it and where they are in real-time.
ERCOT – which is in charge of managing the distribution of all of the energy in Texas and maintaining its grid – underestimated the storm so didn’t produce enough reserve energy beforehand and now, plants can’t produce more power because they were unprepared for the bad weather.
The agency claims it predicted that peak energy demand would be 67 gigawatts but it reached 69 gigawatts on Sunday night – the first night of the storm. The agency then cut the power across the state by close to half – reducing it to just over 40 gigawatts. Each gigawatt powers some 500 homes.
What compounded the sudden demand for energy was that ERCOT didn’t anticipate not being able to produce more energy during the storm.
The vast majority of the state’s energy (40 percent) comes from natural gas, and the plants that produce it are propped up by an infrastructure that, unlike other states, cannot withstand severe winter weather; pipes have frozen in subzero temperatures and wells have been blocked with snow. It is preventing the fossil fuels from being pumped from the ground to the plants and into homes and businesses.
The system was forecast to move into the Northeast on Thursday. More than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather warning, watch or advisory, the weather service said.
‘There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area,’ said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.
Seven million Texans are under boil water notices after the storm compromised systems – a problem exacerbated by the lack of power in many homes. Another blast of ice and snow threatened to sow more chaos Wednesday
Fort Worth, Texas: Gas stations such as this 7Eleven/Exxon on Highway 377 can not get deliveries of fuel, having run out on Sunday and not expecting another shipment until next week
Dallas, Texas: Houses covered with snow on Wednesday afternoon as millions throughout the state were still without power
Desperate Texans waited for more than an hour in freezing rain to fill propane tanks in Houston on Wednesday as more than 3million people remain without power. Some 600,000 had power switched back on by 6am Wednesday and even more were turned back on before lunchtime but millions remain in the dark and without heating. With ongoing, forced blackouts in being carried out in different parts of the state, it is difficult to track exactly how many people don’t have it and where they are in real-time.
Carlos Mandez waits in line to fill his propane tanks Wednesday in Houston after the CEO of ERCOT – the Texas energy agency responsible for the deadly blackouts that have driven people to burn furniture and accidentally poison themselves with carbon monoxide just to stay warm – said he had no idea when power would be restored but claimed his agency managed to avoid an even bigger catastrophe by switching it off
Frozen: More than 4million people in Texas were without power yesterday afternoon in subzero temperatures for the fourth day in a row.
ERCOT switched off millions of people’s power on Monday which reduced usage from around 70,000 megawatts to (70 gigawatts) to just over 43,000 megawatts (gigawatts). 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) is enough to power 500 homes
ERCOT says that had it allowed the power to continue being used, the entire grid would have gone down and it would have taken longer to get up and running than the current, forced outages will. The explanation has fallen on deaf ears in Texas, where millions want to know why the crisis wasn’t averted
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness – who made $880,000 in 2018 – claimed on Tuesday night that the situation could be worse. He refused to take responsibility for the fact his agency didn’t upgrade systems to make sure plants would withstand the cold, and instead chalked the whole crisis down to a ‘supply and demand imbalance’
Now, ERCOT has deliberately switched off people’s power to try to stop them from draining any remaining reserves.
It has created a diabolical situation in the face of freak weather in the southern state where temperatures on Tuesday plummeted to -2 F – the lowest they have been since 1903- and where eight inches of snow have fallen in some parts.
It’s unclear how many people have died in Texas so far but the death toll there includes a mother and daughter who died from carbon monoxide poisoning because they left a car running in their garage to stay warm, and a grandmother and three children who died after the fire they were using to keep warm spread throughout their house in Sugar Land.
There are delays to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and many doses that were being stored are under threat because the freezers storing them can’t operate without power.
The outages have crippled water pressure which also threatens drinking water supply. It is a particular problem in hospitals, where pressure is dwindling.
There are also fears that without any new gas becoming available soon, prices are about to skyrocket by as much as 20 cents per gallon.
People are also being told to boil water before they drink it or use it for cooking because it is no longer safe, due to the shortage in power plants.
Many can’t – because they do not have power – and stores where they could buy bottled water are closed or empty. Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday night called the situation ‘completely unacceptable’ and ordered a full investigation into how ERCOT had failed the state so drastically.
A Texan looks for information on his cell phone as he rest at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Wednesday as winter storm Uri prompted countless people sought warmth in pop-up shelters after rolling black-outs left millions without heat and power
A long line of cars snakes out of the H-E-B gas station and into the supermarket’s parking lot Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas
Natural gas runs in the home of Cynthia Valadez off of East Cesar Chavez Street in Austin on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
Customers wait outside at a Home Depot in Pearland, Texas to enter the store to buy supplies on February 17, 2021. The store has no power so is only letting one person at a time
City of Richardson workers close a water main valve for a pipe that burst due to extreme cold in a neighborhood Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Richardson, Texas. Millions remain without power in the record-breaking cold, mostly in Texas
Brett Saint, right, and Joetta Myers sit on a sofa inside a Gallery Furniture store which opened as a shelter Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Houston
People line up to fill their empty propane tanks Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Houston. Temperatures stayed below freezing Tuesday, and many residents were without electricity
Beto O’Rourke, the failed Senate hopeful and former Congressman, said on Tuesday night that Texas was close to becoming a ‘failed state’ because of the energy crisis.
‘We’ve seen that extraordinary spike in demand and then the same storm has caused real challenges to the delivery of electricity to the supply, with wind turbines freeze and can’t run, the storm blows through and there’s .. you have problems with the equipment at some of these plants, they trip off and have to get fixed.
‘There’s a number of factors where a storm like this that’s been so historic and we haven’t seen much precedent for, pushes the system where demand up and supply down… the only way we can keep it in control is to do outages.’
He said that if ERCOT hadn’t switched power off, the systems would have completely broken and wouldn’t have been able to be turned back on, but he also failed to give a firm answer on when that will happen.
‘If we had let the system go into a stage where a blackout would happen, we wouldn’t be talking about when are we going to restore the power, when are we going to turn it back on. We would be talking about rebuilding portions of the electric system. We wouldn’t be able to do this in days.
‘The goal today is to find ways to get as many Texans back on as we possibly can,’ he said.
Magness admitted that the agency knew the storm was coming and tried to prepare for it but that the crippling of the infrastructure hindered the efforts.
Gov Abbott also blamed renewable energy and wind turbines for the disaster, telling Fox’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday night: ‘This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.
‘Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis… It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary,’ he said.
The disaster in Texas has happened because of failures in both fossil fuel production and renewable energy.
On Tuesday night, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said he thought his agency had actually avoided an even bigger problem by taking the steps they have.
In an interview with CBS Austin, he said: ‘The reason why is these outages have to exist is the electric system has to be managed where supply and demand have to be balanced all the time.
‘These outages, while they are extremely difficult and we are tying to get them to end as fast as we can, are a controlled method of making sure we don’t lose the system – that we don’t have a much bigger, catastrophic event on the system.’
He refused to take responsibility for the fact that the reason supply is down is because the plants were unprepared, and even seemed to boast about Texas’s response to the crisis.
‘If you have a big imbalance between the supply and the demand, you can have catastrophic failures of the system, blackouts like we’ve seen in some parts of the country but haven’t seen here in Texas that can take a very long time to repair.’
He also said that the same amount of energy was being used now as it is in the summer, when Texans use their air conditioners.
‘What we saw this time was the demand side with the storm the temperatures, all the snow, has brought power demand higher in Texas than it’s ever, ever been – even close during the winter – we’re using electricity at a rate that Texas uses it in the summer time when we’re pumping all our air conditioners.
‘I know there were certainly efforts to plan, and then we saw some events when the storm blew in that made it a lot more challenging.’
Last night, Governor Abbott fumed that the blame lies with ERCOT and that an investigation must be launched.
‘The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours… 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,’ Abbott said.
‘You can always count on Greg Abbott to pass the buck when he fails,’ Julian Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio, tweeted.
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News – Hospitals in Texas EVACUATED as patients left without water or heat