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Adding to the state’s misery, the weather jeopardized drinking water systems. Authorities ordered 7 million people – a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state – to boil tap water before drinking it, following the record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and pipes.
Water pressure dropped after lines froze and because many people left faucets dripping to prevent pipes from icing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Abbott urged residents to shut off water to prevent more busted pipes and preserve municipal system pressure.
President Joe Biden said he called Abbott on Thursday evening and offered additional support from the federal government to state and local agencies. On Friday, Biden said he plans to visit Texas next week but will only go if he determines he won’t be a “burden.”
Firefighters battling a massive blaze at an apartment complex in the San Antonio area Thursday night were hampered by frozen fire hydrants.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the building was evacuated and there have been no reports of injuries, firefighters said. By the evening, the blaze engulfed the building as firefighters had to continuously retrieve water from the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said residents will probably have to boil tap water in the fourth-largest U.S. City until Sunday or Monday.
Texas cold snap: Experts fear damage could be ‘pretty similar to the effects of a hurricane’
Federal emergency officials sent generators to support water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes in Texas, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, officials said.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 1,000 Texas public water systems and 177 of the state’s 254 counties had reported weather-related operational disruptions, affecting more than 14 million people, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.