The big storm is long gone, but the people of Texas are still suffering from its effects.
Upwards of 9 million Texans are still being advised to boil their drinking water; 120,000 have no water service at all, according to NBC News. Repairs to the state’s power generating capacity will take weeks, if not months.
Just as winter was closing in, last November — a winter that last week “plunged millions of Texans into the dark and cold,” and killed at least 22 — regulators decided to toss out a contract with a non-profit group hired to ensure the reliability of the state’s electrical supply, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The regulators who make up the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), and Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed them, are now in the crosshairs of critics who say the PUC dumped its multi-year contract with the Texas Reliability Entity, with no apparent plan to cover the gap.
“It’s astonishing to me that the PUC would get rid of the independent reliability entity with no plan to replace it,” state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas), told the Chronicle. “No staff, no oversight on reliability.”
Members of the Texas state House plan to hold a hearing this week on the storm-caused blackout and water shortage, and the state’s uttlerly inadequate response.
The most reliable Texas institutions during the crisis turned out not to be public officials, but private businesses — especially the H-E-B supermarket chain, with 340 stores statewide.
“It’s like H-E-B is the moral center of Texas,” Stephen Harrigan, a writer who lives in Austin told the New York Times. “There seems to be in our state a lack of real leadership, a lack of real efficiency, on the political level. But on the business level, when it comes to a grocery store, all of those things are in place.”
In a statement on Sunday H-E-B confirmed that burden on its employees was “incredibly difficult” — yet directed its own gratitude toward others.
“We are particularly grateful for the utility workers in Texas who worked bravely and diligently through the storm to restore water and power to Texans,” the statement said.