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In an icy United States, millions struggle to survive without heat or water

Temperatures have dropped to extreme levels in the United States. (Free Press Photo: VOA)

As a series of winter storms sweep through Texas and the southern United States, residents struggle to survive a poorly prepared infrastructure system.

« I have electricity at the moment, but I don’t know how long it will last, » he told the Voice of america Cecily Jones, a resident of Katy, Texas, a suburb 30 miles west of Houston.

Jones is one of about four million people in Texas – and hundreds of thousands more in southern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia – whose homes were without power this week due to periods prolonged periods of unusually cold weather in the region.

Jones said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the state’s power grid, has only managed to supply electricity to his home for about six hours a day. With temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius sweeping the entire area. That leaves her experiencing extreme cold inside her house.

But the lack of heat is just one of several problems Jones said he is facing.

« I haven’t had water for days, » Jones said. “The pipe broke when it froze and flooded almost my entire house, except for the rooms on the other side of the house. If I wasn’t there to turn off the water, my roof would have collapsed. « 

With millions of residents in the region struggling through that same storm, Jones said he has been unable to contact his insurance company, or even a plumber.

Instead, she is trapped at home with few options. The roads are too icy to travel, so you can’t get supplies. The icy roads also make it impossible to reunite with her daughter, who is staying with Jones’ parents. And even if you could get to a hotel in the area, all rooms are reserved.

Lowes employee Jalend Washington brings a kerosene heater to a customer’s truck on February 18, 2021, in Madison, Mississippi.

« The coronavirus pandemic did not magically disappear due to this storm, » said Jalend Washington, a resident of Madison, Mississippi.

« Do I even want to stay in a hotel? » He asked. “The coronavirus pandemic did not magically disappear due to this storm. But how long can I stay here without electricity or water? I’m just trying to hold out one day at a time. « 

The White House said in a statement Thursday that President Joe Biden had a conversation with Greg Abbot, the governor of Texas.

The statement notes that the president told Abbott « that the federal government will continue to work hand in hand with state and local authorities in Texas to bring relief and address the critical needs of affected families. »

« The president also expressed that his administration was ready should the state of Texas or any other affected region need additional federal disaster assistance or support as severe storms move through the United States, » the statement said.