Biden declares emergency in Texas as millions left without power and water

Saturday, 20 Feb, 2021

White House homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said 1 million or more people are still experiencing power outages as a result of the storm that has engulfed Texas and other areas of the United States.

The city was providing water for flushing toilets and drinking, but residents had to pick it up, leaving the elderly and those living on icy roads vulnerable.

The US president said he hopes to travel to the lone star state next week but does not want his presence hampering the recovery efforts.

The estimate, by Karen Clark & Co, a Boston firm whose software helps insurers to predict their catastrophe losses, is for property damage in Texas and other states, a spokesman said.

Two large hospitals in the city reported no running water, leading to the cancellation of nonemergency procedures through at least Friday.

Water service was restored Friday to two Houston Methodist community hospitals, but officials still were bringing in drinking water and some elective surgeries were cancelled, spokeswoman Gale Smith said. The water system was taxed because millions of people left their faucets dripping to prevent pipes from freezing and possibly bursting.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that all power-generating plants were online as of Thursday afternoon.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has shipped dozens of generators and supplies, including fuel, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas.

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.

Experts said part of the issue has been caused by delays in transportation due to the severe weather. Her husband, who is on a defibrillator and heart monitor, has only enough heart medication to get him through Sunday because she hasn't been able to go to the pharmacy.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden had been receiving updates about Texas and the surrounding states impacted by the bad weather a few times a day.

"We know millions of people are suffering", ERCOT's president and CEO, Bill Magness, said in a statement Wednesday.

Biden also shared his intentions to instruct additional federal agencies to look into any steps that could support Texas.

At $18 billion, it's possible that reinsurance and potentially some collateralised reinsurance layers will be impacted by storm Uri.

And emergency medical authorities around the state said dozens of others have been treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, while 77 were treated for hypothermia in northern Texas Tuesday. "Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe".

The NWS said the storm would bring ice, sleet and heavy snow to parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and MS as it tracks to the northeast, causing power outages, tree damage and making driving hazardous.

"The Plains and Mississippi Valley can expect daily temperature anomalies ranging between 20 and 30 degrees below normal".

Insurance and reinsurance broker Aon also commented on the last week of winter storm weather in the US saying, "The total combined economic cost from the past week of wintry weather was expected to reach well into the billions of dollars (USD)".