Days before Texans lost power, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas assured state leaders that they were "ready for the cold temperatures coming our way," Gov. Greg Abbott said during a press conference to discuss statewide response to the aftermath of the winter storm. However, negligence and ill-preparedness on behalf of ERCOT left millions in the dark for days, not knowing when—or if—it would return, and the governor is taking action.
As electricity restoration has reached nearly 100%, ERCOT, which maintains about 90% of the state's electric grid, is no longer mandating controlled outages and those still left without power are likely facing a local issue, like a downed power line.
Abbott said the state received a notice and an assessment from ERCOT explicitly stating power plants were winterized properly and there would definitely be enough power to match the storm. Abbott said ERCOT's failure to meet demands is what triggered his order to launch an investigation on the nonprofit.
"ERCOT fell short on all ... promises they made, which is exactly why I have ordered the state legislature to investigate exactly why ERCOT fell short here and to make sure this never happens again," Abbott said. "We know that you folks at home have faced struggles by going without power. We want to make sure that whatever happened in ERCOT falling short never happens again."
After five days of Austinites and other Texans alike struggling to meet basic needs—electricity, water, food and heat—Abbott laid out a recovery plan to get the state back on its feet.
With millions of dollars in projected damage, Abbott said President Joe Biden told him he would approve the major disaster declaration the state submitted last night. Once the declaration is approved, it will allow Texans to request funding to help cover damages not covered by private insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We cannot emphasize this enough about homeowners and renters being prepared to deal with the consequences of busted water pipes," Abbott said. "The major disaster declaration, when approved by the Biden administration, will assist this process."
Abbott encouraged homeowners to get in touch with insurance providers as soon as possible to mitigate damage. The city plans to launch a damage survey tool so residents can report issues.
Abbott said 10,000-20,000 electric restorations are made each hour; from 4.5 million down to about 165,000 homes still without power across the state, the biggest problems Texas now faces are restoring water, repairing damages and getting residents access to food.
Now with more than 14 million Texans affected by the water crisis, Abbott said the state has partnered with mobile testing labs and testing labs in Arkansas to tackle water purity. Since plumbers are in very high demand, the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners is coordinating with out-of-state agencies to bring more plumbers to the state.
"There will be great demand for plumbers today, tomorrow, this weekend and in the coming days," Abbott said. "We want to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to help you gain access to the plumbers that you need to solve your plumbing and leakage problems."
Food and water are still being delivered to Texas and has so far received more than 1.7 million bottles of water. An additional 331 warming centers have opened, ambulances are being imported in-state and Abbott said with roads improving, resources like gasoline and food will start to be delivered much quicker.
"We brought in all of these additional resources to make sure that the turnaround will be quicker," Abbott said. "I want to reassure you, that we're using every single tool at our disposal to make sure that your needs are going to be met."
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