Respite for Texas as temperatures hit 50f after week of historic lows officials say at least 10 died

With the snow and ice clearing in Texas after days of unusually cold temperatures, bodies are being found of people who likely froze to death as they struggled to stay warm after electricity was cut to millions of homes.

Of the around 70 deaths attributed to the snow, ice and frigid temperatures nationwide, more than a dozen were people who perished in homes that had lost their heat, and most of those were in Texas.    

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state where 14million were without water at one point with towns cut off from the electricity grid for seven days. 

The move – announced on Saturday – makes federal funding available to individuals across the state, including assistance for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans for losses on uninsured property. 

Volunteers direct traffic during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center on Saturday in Houston, Texas

Volunteers direct traffic during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center on Saturday in Houston, Texas

Volunteers direct traffic during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center on Saturday in Houston, Texas

An aerial drone view of cars lining up for a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center in Houston, Texas. Much of Texas is still struggling with historic cold weather, power outages and a shortage of potable water after winter storm Uri

An aerial drone view of cars lining up for a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center in Houston, Texas. Much of Texas is still struggling with historic cold weather, power outages and a shortage of potable water after winter storm Uri

An aerial drone view of cars lining up for a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center in Houston, Texas. Much of Texas is still struggling with historic cold weather, power outages and a shortage of potable water after winter storm Uri

Volunteers direct traffic as they pass out water during a water distribution event in Houston. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Volunteers direct traffic as they pass out water during a water distribution event in Houston. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Volunteers direct traffic as they pass out water during a water distribution event in Houston. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Cars are lined up in a parking lot as people wait to be directed to a food distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas

Cars are lined up in a parking lot as people wait to be directed to a food distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas

Cars are lined up in a parking lot as people wait to be directed to a food distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas

The victims of the crisis include 11-year-old Cristian Pavon, who perished of hypothermia in his family’s mobile home in Conroe, near Houston, a day after he was pictured enjoying the snow – the first he had ever seen in his life. 

Among the other dead are a man who reportedly froze to death in his recliner chair with his ‘nearly dead’ wife by his side; three children who perished in a fire as they huddled in a fireplace for warmth; and a mother and daughter died who from carbon monoxide poisoning as they bundled in their car in a garage.   

Two older men were also found dead in their homes in the small West Texas town of Buffalo Gap in Taylor County.

Many of the deaths came as Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his family were packing their suitcases to fly to the $309-a-night Ritz-Carlton in Cancun where temperatures were 85F – compared to a low of -2F in Texas. 

He later returned on Thursday after his actions provoked an outcry. 

On Saturday, his wife Heidi Cruz returned to the U.S. 

The 48-year-old was seen walking into the terminal on Saturday with her daughters Catherine, 12, and Caroline, 10, as she prepared to board a flight back to storm-lashed Texas at the end of a controversial four-day stay.

Heidi Cuz stayed at the popular but pricey $300-a-night Ritz Carlton resort - where the wintry chaos enveloping Texas appeared far from everyone's minds

Heidi Cuz stayed at the popular but pricey $300-a-night Ritz Carlton resort - where the wintry chaos enveloping Texas appeared far from everyone's minds

Heidi Cuz stayed at the popular but pricey $300-a-night Ritz Carlton resort – where the wintry chaos enveloping Texas appeared far from everyone’s minds 

As Heidi marched out of the Houston airport with her kids and an unidentified boy - all of whom were wearing masks - at 6pm on Saturday night, DailyMail.com asked her several questions, all of which she refused to answer

As Heidi marched out of the Houston airport with her kids and an unidentified boy - all of whom were wearing masks - at 6pm on Saturday night, DailyMail.com asked her several questions, all of which she refused to answer

As Heidi marched out of the Houston airport with her kids and an unidentified boy – all of whom were wearing masks – at 6pm on Saturday night, DailyMail.com asked her several questions, all of which she refused to answer

Cruz - seen at Cancun airport on Thursday before his flight back to Texas - enraged his state by fleeing in the midst of the worst snow storms to hit Texas in decades

Cruz - seen at Cancun airport on Thursday before his flight back to Texas - enraged his state by fleeing in the midst of the worst snow storms to hit Texas in decades

Cruz – seen at Cancun airport on Thursday before his flight back to Texas – enraged his state by fleeing in the midst of the worst snow storms to hit Texas in decades

Photos taken on Friday at a beach on the $300-a-night Ritz Carlton resort showed her and the kids splashing about in the waves amid 85F temperatures – compared to a low of -2F in Texas.

Her Texas senator husband, 50, had flown out with them on Wednesday, at the same time his state was being ravaged by storms that left millions without power and water for days on end.

On Friday President Biden said that he hopes to travel to Texas next week but doesn’t want his presence and the accompanying presidential entourage to distract from the recovery.

‘They’re working like the devil to take care of their folks,’ Biden said of Texas officials. He said he’d make a decision early next week about travel.

Biden, who offered himself during the campaign as the experienced and empathetic candidate the nation needed at this moment in time, is working on several fronts to address the situation – and to avoid repeating the mistakes of predecessors who got tripped up by inadequate or insensitive responses in times of disaster. 

Taylor County Sheriff Ricky Bishop said his office received many calls in recent days asking for checks on friends or family members who may be suffering due to the power outages.

‘I can think of probably one point in one hour we probably got 10 of those calls,’ said Bishop, adding that some of the county’s roads were covered in 4 foot deep snow drifts.

Water damage from burst pipes at a local bakery in Baytown, Texas. Restaurants in Texas are throwing out expired food, grocery stores are closing early amid stock shortages and residents are struggling to find basic necessities

Water damage from burst pipes at a local bakery in Baytown, Texas. Restaurants in Texas are throwing out expired food, grocery stores are closing early amid stock shortages and residents are struggling to find basic necessities

Water damage from burst pipes at a local bakery in Baytown, Texas. Restaurants in Texas are throwing out expired food, grocery stores are closing early amid stock shortages and residents are struggling to find basic necessities

The ceiling of the bakery collapsed as a result of the devastating storm that swept through the area

The ceiling of the bakery collapsed as a result of the devastating storm that swept through the area

The ceiling of the bakery collapsed as a result of the devastating storm that swept through the area 

Water shoots out of a burst pipe outside of a restaurant in Houston, Texas as a result of freezing temperatures

Water shoots out of a burst pipe outside of a restaurant in Houston, Texas as a result of freezing temperatures

Water shoots out of a burst pipe outside of a restaurant in Houston, Texas as a result of freezing temperatures 

Hypothermia can set in if the body loses heat faster than it can produce it and if it falls below about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees.

‘After hours and hours, it leads to a very dangerous condition,’ said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for Fort Worth area ambulance provider MedStar, said most of the hypothermia calls they received were from people in their own homes, where temperatures had dipped to 50 degrees or lower.

MedStar reached a peak on Wednesday with 77 hypothermia calls, Zavadsky said. Some people reported numb hands and feet, while others had more severe symptoms.

‘You had people who had been so cold for so long that they were shivering uncontrollably, they may have had a decreased level of consciousness, which is not uncommon when you are in hypothermia for a prolonged period of time,’ he said.

Some who were transported to hospitals had reached the point they were no longer shivering, ‘which is a very bad sign,’ Zavadsky said.    

Some of the older people who died in Texas were found outside their homes. It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted them to go outside. 

Rakeb Shelemu, seven

Rakeb Shelemu, seven

Etenesh Mersha

Etenesh Mersha

Rakeb Shelemu, seven, and her mother, Etenesh Mersha, died from carbon monoxide poisoning during the power outage in south-west Houston on Friday 

Cristian Pavó, an 11-year-old boy who died in his unheated Texas home. The snow behind him was the first time he had seen snow in his life. He died the next day

Cristian Pavó, an 11-year-old boy who died in his unheated Texas home. The snow behind him was the first time he had seen snow in his life. He died the next day

Cristian

Cristian

Cristian Pavó, an 11-year-old boy who died in his unheated Texas home. The snow behind him (left) was the first time he had seen snow in his life. He died the next day 

The victims include 84-year-old Mary Gee, whose family said she froze to death in her home in Houston before a burglar robbed items from her apartment.  

Over in Abilene, a man was found frozen to death Wednesday in his recliner chair and his wife was  taken to hospital where she remains ‘in peril’ after suffering without power for several days. 

Another man died at a health care facility in the city when a lack of water pressure made medical treatment impossible. 

The three children who perished in a house fire in Sugar Land when they huddled in a fireplace to stay warm during power outages have now been named as Olivia, Edison and Colette Nguyen.   

The siblings and their grandmother Le Loan died in the early hours of Tuesday morning during the blackouts. 

Firefighters were called out around 2 am and tackled the blaze but the four victims were confirmed dead. The children’s mom Jackie Nguyen and a friend were also injured and taken to hospital. 

The children’s father, Nathan, stars in an HBO show called House of Ho, which chronicles the lives of the members of a wealthy Vietnamese-American family living the American Dream in Houston. 

Colette, Edison, and Olivia Nguyen died on Friday alongside their grandmother after a fire at their house in Sugar Land on Friday. The children's father, Nathan, stars in an HBO show called House of Ho, which chronicles the lives of the members of a wealthy Vietnamese-American family living the American Dream in Houston

Colette, Edison, and Olivia Nguyen died on Friday alongside their grandmother after a fire at their house in Sugar Land on Friday. The children's father, Nathan, stars in an HBO show called House of Ho, which chronicles the lives of the members of a wealthy Vietnamese-American family living the American Dream in Houston

Colette, Edison, and Olivia Nguyen died on Friday alongside their grandmother after a fire at their house in Sugar Land on Friday. The children’s father, Nathan, stars in an HBO show called House of Ho, which chronicles the lives of the members of a wealthy Vietnamese-American family living the American Dream in Houston

Carrol G Anderson died of hypothermia inside his car in 19F weather while driving to try and find an oxygen tank

Carrol G Anderson died of hypothermia inside his car in 19F weather while driving to try and find an oxygen tank

Mary Gee died of hypothermia

Mary Gee died of hypothermia

Carrol G Anderson (pictured on the left with his wife, Gloria) died of hypothermia inside his car in 19F weather while driving to try and find an oxygen tank. Mary Gee (right) also died of hypothermia

A relative wrote on a Go Fund Me page for the Nguyen family, who lost three children and their grandmother: 'These angels were witty, funny, each with their owners funky and sassy attitudes, and each were extremely loved by me and the entire family'

A relative wrote on a Go Fund Me page for the Nguyen family, who lost three children and their grandmother: 'These angels were witty, funny, each with their owners funky and sassy attitudes, and each were extremely loved by me and the entire family'

A relative wrote on a Go Fund Me page for the Nguyen family, who lost three children and their grandmother: ‘These angels were witty, funny, each with their owners funky and sassy attitudes, and each were extremely loved by me and the entire family’

President Joe Biden speaks to member of the media after exiting Air Force One on Friday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland

President Joe Biden speaks to member of the media after exiting Air Force One on Friday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland

Wesley Crow, 57, died at home in Texas after going without power and heat for almost two days

Wesley Crow, 57, died at home in Texas after going without power and heat for almost two days

President Joe Biden speaks to member of the media Friday after leaving Air Force One on Friday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Also pictured is Wesley Crow, 57, (right) died at home in Texas after going without power and heat for almost two days

In Houston, Etenesh Mersha and her 7-year-old daughter Rakeb Shelemu died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning Monday after they huddled in their car in the garage for warmth amid a blackout in their home. 

Etenesh’s husband Ato Shalemu Bekele and their 8-year-old son Beimnet Shalemu were also rushed to hospital where the little boy was still in ICU two days later.

Wesley Crow, 57, collapsed and died in his old farmhouse just outside Santa Fe after he and his sister Laura were left for almost two days without power.  

‘He just collapsed, his eyes rolled up into his head and just stopped breathing,’ Crow told ABC13

Meanwhile, Carrol G Anderson died of hypothermia inside his car in 19F weather while driving to try and find an oxygen tank. 

Austin Musicians unite to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to residents affected by the winter storm crisis

Austin Musicians unite to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to residents affected by the winter storm crisis

Austin Musicians unite to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to residents affected by the winter storm crisis

A long line of cars line up at the Austin Texas Musicians emergency disaster relief event. 500 families received FEMA relief boxes and locally donated water, diapers and necessities

A long line of cars line up at the Austin Texas Musicians emergency disaster relief event. 500 families received FEMA relief boxes and locally donated water, diapers and necessities

A long line of cars line up at the Austin Texas Musicians emergency disaster relief event. 500 families received FEMA relief boxes and locally donated water, diapers and necessities

Warmer temperatures are on their way across the center of the country and will be up to 50 degrees F higher

Warmer temperatures are on their way across the center of the country and will be up to 50 degrees F higher

Warmer temperatures are on their way across the center of the country and will be up to 50 degrees F higher

A big warm up has been forecast to move across the country early next week

A big warm up has been forecast to move across the country early next week

A big warm up has been forecast to move across the country early next week 

The eastern half of the country will also enjoy a warm up of between 10-30F

The eastern half of the country will also enjoy a warm up of between 10-30F

The eastern half of the country will also enjoy a warm up of between 10-30F

On Saturday, warmer temperatures began to spread across the southern US bringing relief to a winter-weary region that faces a challenging clean-up and expensive repairs from days of extreme cold and widespread power outages.

In Texas, where millions were warned to boil tap water before drinking it, the warm-up was expected to last for several days. 

The thaw produced burst pipes throughout the state, adding to the list of woes from the severe conditions.

By Saturday afternoon, the sun had come out in Dallas and temperatures were nearing the 50s. People emerged to walk and jog in residential neighborhoods after days indoors. Many roads had dried out, and patches of snow were melting. Snowmen slumped.

Linda Nguyen woke up in a Dallas hotel room Saturday morning with an assurance she hadn’t had in nearly a week: She and her cat had somewhere to sleep with power and water.

Electricity had been restored to her apartment on Wednesday. But when Nguyen arrived home from work the next evening, she found a soaked carpet. A pipe had burst in her bedroom.

‘It’s essentially unlivable,’ said Nguyen, 27, who works in real estate. ‘Everything is completely ruined.’

Deaths attributed to the weather include a man at an Abilene health care facility where the lack of water pressure made medical treatment impossible. 

Officials also reported deaths from hypothermia, including homeless people and those inside buildings with no power or heat. Others died in car accidents on icy roads or from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Roughly half the deaths reported so far occurred in Texas, with multiple fatalities also in Tennessee, Kentucky, Oregon and a few other Southern and Midwestern states.

A Tennessee farmer died trying to save two calves from a frozen pond.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talks with home owner Sandali Ramirez alongside U.S. Rep. Al Green and U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talks with home owner Sandali Ramirez alongside U.S. Rep. Al Green and U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talks with home owner Sandali Ramirez alongside U.S. Rep. Al Green and U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

Jessica Hulsey of Houston talks to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after giving her a tour of her neighborhood where some homes were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

Jessica Hulsey of Houston talks to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after giving her a tour of her neighborhood where some homes were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

Jessica Hulsey of Houston talks to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after giving her a tour of her neighborhood where some homes were damaged by the winter storm in Houston

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia looks at water damage with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Rep. Al Green, during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia looks at water damage with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Rep. Al Green, during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia looks at water damage with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Rep. Al Green, during a tour of some homes that were damaged by the winter storm

President Joe Biden’s office said Saturday he has declared a major disaster in Texas, directing federal agencies to help in the recovery.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, tweeted Saturday that she helped raise more than $3 million toward relief. She was soliciting help for a Houston food bank, one of 12 Texas organizations she said would benefit from the donations.

The storms left more than 300,000 still without power across the country on Saturday, many of them in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 50,000 Oregon electricity customers were among those without power, more than a week after an ice storm ravaged the electrical grid. Portland General Electric had hoped to have service back to all but 15,000 customers by Friday night. But the utility discovered additional damage in previously inaccessible areas.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered the National Guard to go door-to-door in some areas to check on residents’ welfare. At its peak, what was the worst ice storm in 40 years knocked out power to more than 350,000 customers.

In West Virginia, Appalachian Power was working on a list of about 1,500 places that needed repair, as about 44,000 customers in the state remained without electricity after experiencing back-to-back ice storms on February 11 and 15. 

More than 3,200 workers were attempting to get power back online, their efforts spread across the six most affected counties on Saturday.

In Wayne County, West Virginia, workers had to replace the same pole three times because trees kept falling on it.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met Saturday with legislators from both parties to discuss energy prices as Texans face massive spikes in their electric bills after wholesale energy prices skyrocketed while power plants were offline.

‘We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills’ resulting from the weather, he said in a statement.

Volunteers sort through locally donated diapers and feminine products for the Austin Texas Musicians event to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the winter storm crisis

Volunteers sort through locally donated diapers and feminine products for the Austin Texas Musicians event to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the winter storm crisis

Volunteers sort through locally donated diapers and feminine products for the Austin Texas Musicians event to distribute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the winter storm crisis

Volunteers pack emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. The Houston Food Bank is preparing thousands of emergency food boxes that will be given out to residents in need after winter storm Uri swept across Texas

Volunteers pack emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. The Houston Food Bank is preparing thousands of emergency food boxes that will be given out to residents in need after winter storm Uri swept across Texas

Volunteers pack emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. The Houston Food Bank is preparing thousands of emergency food boxes that will be given out to residents in need after winter storm Uri swept across Texas

Water woes added misery for people across the South who went without heat or electricity for days after the ice. Snow storms forced rolling blackouts from Minnesota to Texas.

Robert Tuskey was retrieving tools from the back of his pickup truck Saturday afternoon as he prepared to fix a water line at a friend’s home in Dallas.

‘Everything’s been freezing,’ Tuskey said. ‘I even had one in my own house … of course I’m lucky I’m a plumber.’

Tuskey, 49, said his plumbing business has had a stream of calls for help from friends and relatives with burst pipes. ‘I’m fixing to go help out another family member,’ he said. ‘I know she ain’t got no money at all, but they ain’t got no water at all, and they’re older.’

In Jackson, Mississippi, most of the city of about 161,000 lacked running water, and officials blamed city water mains that are more than 100 years old and not built for freezing weather.

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.

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

Austin Texas Musicians unite to distrubute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the storm

Austin Texas Musicians unite to distrubute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the storm

Austin Texas Musicians unite to distrubute FEMA emergency disaster relief boxes to Austin residents affected by the storm

Volunteers pass out plates of food during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Volunteers pass out plates of food during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Volunteers pass out plates of food during a water distribution event at the Fountain Life Center. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water at their homes and are relying on city water giveaways

Incoming and outgoing passenger flights at Memphis International Airport resumed Saturday after all flights were canceled Friday because of water pressure problems. The issues hadn’t been resolved, but airport officials set up temporary restroom facilities.

Prison rights advocates said some correctional facilities across Louisiana had intermittent electricity and frozen pipes, affecting toilets and showers.

The men who are sick, elderly or being held not in dormitories but in cell blocks — small spaces surrounded by concrete walls — were especially vulnerable, according to Voice of the Experienced, a grassroots organization founded and run by formerly incarcerated people. The group said one man at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, just south of Baton Rouge, described a thin layer of ice on his walls.

Cammie Maturin said she spoke to men at the 6,300-inmate Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola who were given no extra provisions to protect themselves from the cold.

‘They give them no extra blankets. No extra anything, For them, it’s just been fend for yourself,’ said Maturin, president of the nonprofit H.O.P.E. Foundation.

Volunteers pass out water during a water in Houston. Residents pulled up in their trucks and filled their flatbeds and trunks

Volunteers pass out water during a water in Houston. Residents pulled up in their trucks and filled their flatbeds and trunks

Volunteers pass out water during a water in Houston. Residents pulled up in their trucks and filled their flatbeds and trunks

Lucas Velarde fills a water jug at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays High School in Kyle, Texas

Lucas Velarde fills a water jug at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays High School in Kyle, Texas

Lucas Velarde fills a water jug at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays High School in Kyle, Texas

Lucas Velarde and Erin Purdy (L-R) fill water jugs for people at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays in Kyle, Texas

Lucas Velarde and Erin Purdy (L-R) fill water jugs for people at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays in Kyle, Texas

Lucas Velarde and Erin Purdy (L-R) fill water jugs for people at a drive through water distribution center setup at Jack C Hays in Kyle, Texas

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

Volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank give food to needy people at a drive thru distribution point setup at Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas. The food bank is handing out about 2,000 boxes of food at the site

A volunteer packs peanut butter into emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water or food at their homes and are relying on giveaways

A volunteer packs peanut butter into emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water or food at their homes and are relying on giveaways

A volunteer packs peanut butter into emergency distribution boxes at the Houston Food Bank on Saturday. Many Houston residents do not have drinkable water or food at their homes and are relying on giveaways

In many areas, water pressure dropped after lines froze and because people left faucets dripping to prevent pipes from icing, authorities said.

As of Saturday, 1,445 public water systems in Texas had reported disrupted operations, said Toby Baker executive director of the state Commission on Environmental Quality. Government agencies were using mobile labs and coordinating to speed water testing.

That’s up from 1,300 reporting issues Friday afternoon. But Baker said the number of affected customers had dropped slightly. Most were under boil-water orders, with 156,000 lacking water service entirely.

‘It seems like last night we may have seen some stabilization in the water systems across the state,’ Baker said.

The Saturday thaw after 11 days of freezing temperatures in Oklahoma City left residents with burst water pipes, inoperable wells and furnaces knocked out of operation by brief power blackouts.

Rhodes College in Memphis said Friday that about 700 residential students were being moved to hotels in the suburbs of Germantown and Collierville after school bathrooms stopped functioning because of low water pressure.

Firefighters extinguished a blaze at a fully occupied 102-room hotel in Killeen, Texas, about 70 miles north of Austin, late Friday. The hotel’s sprinkler system didn’t work because of frozen pipes, authorities said Saturday.

Flames shot from the top of the four-story hotel, and three people required medical care. Displaced guests were taken to a nearby Baptist church.

Texas electrical grid operators said electricity transmission returned to normal after the historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand that buckled the state’s system.

Smaller outages remained, but Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the grid now can provide power throughout the system.

Abbott ordered an investigation into the failure for a state known as the U.S. energy capital. ERCOT officials have defended their preparations and the decision to begin forced outages Monday as the grid reached breaking point.

The blackouts resulted in at least two lawsuits filed against ERCOT and utilities, including one filed by the family of an 11-year-old boy who is believed to have died from hypothermia. The lawsuits claim ERCOT ignored repeated warnings of weaknesses in the state’s power infrastructure.

Also, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued civil investigative demands to ERCOT and electric utility companies. His investigation will address power outages, emergency plans, energy pricing and more related to the winter storm.

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