Socialist Worker

Climate chaos leaves millions of people in Texas without water or power

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2743

A homeless person with frostbite injuries is treated at an emergency clinic in Austin, Texas

A homeless person with frostbite injuries is treated at an emergency clinic in Austin, Texas (Pic: Bob Daemmrich/ZUMA Wire)


Millions of people in Texas, US, face water shortages after a deadly Arctic storm damaged water pipes and treatment plants.

Officials told seven million people—a quarter of the state’s population—to boil tap water before drinking it.

This came after the storms left millions without power in the latest sign of the extreme weather caused by climate chaos.

Storm Uri hit many US southern states this week, affecting 150 million people according to the National Weather Service. 

Over 20 deaths have died—including a woman and her seven year old daughter in Texas. In desperation the woman used a car to heat their home, leading them to inhale fatal amounts of carbon monoxide. 

This isn’t an isolated incident. One Texas county reported that there had been more than 300 carbon monoxide poisoning cases since temperatures fell. 

And a person tweeted that some of his friends were “burning their furniture” to stay warm. 

In Texas a state of emergency was called after temperatures plummeted to as low as -18 degrees in some areas on Sunday. 

The drop meant people were using more power than usual to heat their homes. This sudden surge was too much for the state’s power grid, which wasn’t designed to withstand such low temperatures.

Many residents are angry about why such a catastrophic failure was allowed to happen. Amber Nichols, a Texas resident, said, “We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighbourhoods freezing to death.”

Suffered 

Not everyone has suffered equally in the black out in Texas. Affluent areas often close to critical infrastructure—which remain a priority in a blackout—did not have to be without power for long. 

And in the capital Austin, skyscrapers were even lit up for valentines day while those living in poor neighbourhoods froze. 

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Power companies stand to gain from the high demand for electricity.

In fact, the energy sector gained more than 3 percent on the stock market in early trading on Tuesday. 

The distribution and storage of coronavirus vaccines were also under threat across the state. In Harris County, Texas, the backup generator at the refrigerated storage facility failed. 

The weather conditions have also caused complications outside the southern US, with Washington State in the north west having to cut down on the number of vaccines administered. And appointments were also rescheduled in New Hampshire. 

Climate change means that extreme weather events like this will become more and more common. This means that places such as Texas—which often experience droughts and heatwaves—will also see extreme weather on the other end of the spectrum. 

Texas is a glimpse of horrors that accelerating climate chaos will create. 


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