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Biden declares 'major disaster' in Texas, 14.4 million people are now under boil orders

Winter weather Texas water crisis
Posted at 10:08 AM, Feb 20, 2021

While electricity to much of Texas has been restored, the crisis caused by severe winter weather is far from over.

Millions of people throughout the state still don’t have clean water to drink, and that number appears to be increasing.

The crisis led the White House to declare a "major disaster" in Texas on Saturday, a move that unlocks more federal resources for the state. According to a White House statement, the declaration "grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses" and other programs.

President Joe Biden previously declared a state of emergency in Texas earlier this week and spoke with Gov. Greg Abbott. He reportedly plans to visit the state next week.

As of Saturday morning, there are about 76,000 people in Texas still without power nearly a week after winter storms knocked parts of the state’s power grid offline. However, that number is down from the millions that were without power just days ago, and the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ECROT) reports that it has ceased rotating blackouts.

The power outages still remaining appear to be in rural counties in central and eastern Texas. ECROT is asking all customers to conserve electricity when possible.

But more concerning at the moment is the state’s current water supply. Frozen and cracked pipes have left an enormous swath of Texas without clean drinking water.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Friday, more than 1,000 public water systems across the state are under boil orders, impacting 14.4 million people.

The number of water systems under boil orders nearly doubled between Thursday and Friday, indicating that the water crisis may just be beginning.

On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged Texans who have busted water pipes to contact their insurance companies immediately to begin the claims process. He said those without insurance will need to file a claim through FEMA once the emergency declaration is formalized.