Texas power outages left students, hospital workers, inmates struggling

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Texans of color, college students and hospital workers were left to struggle through winter storm 

[5 a.m.] Texans of color earning low incomes bore some of the heaviest weight of this week’s power outages as the inequities drawn into the state’s urban centers were exacerbated in crisis. Some residents escaped to nearby hotels, but those who could never afford that option watched the food in their refrigerators — and the precious dollars spent on it — spoil in front of them.

“When you didn’t invest in the whole community equally, then you’re going to see the disparity when we get into situations like this,” said Jill Ramirez, the CEO of the Latino HealthCare Forum.

Meanwhile, Texas universities have tried to provide students with food and shelter and open warming centers in campus buildings. But many are battling dwindling food supplies, staffing shortages, and lack of water and power outages.

Patient logjams, overflowing emergency rooms and exhausted workers created challenging conditions for Texas health care workers in the wake of this week’s debilitating winter storm.

Power and water outages have also hit many Texas prisons and jails. Inmates suffered from unheated cells and correction officers were kept at the units for days without going home. — Texas Tribune staff

Hundreds of thousands still without electricity, even as power grid stabilizes 

[5 a.m.] Hundreds of thousands of Texas electricity customers were still without power Thursday, even though the state was generating enough energy that it didn’t have to force electricity providers to cut power at people’s homes. In addition, millions of people across the state have had their water service disrupted because of the massive winter storm.

Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, according to officials with the entity that operates the grid.

The remaining power outages were due to more local problems in the electrical system, which local companies were scrambling to repair. Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Thursday that every available repair truck had been dispatched in the state to address the lingering electricity issues.

“What happened is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” Abbott said.

While millions of Texans were left in the dark for days, people in El Paso, the upper Panhandle and parts of East Texas kept their lights on — thanks to power drawn from other parts of the country. — Texas Tribune staff

Tribune launches texting service for people relying on cellphones for breaking news 

[5 a.m.] The Texas Tribune is launching a texting service for audiences who are relying on their cellular phones to get breaking news updates about the ongoing winter storm crisis, tips for how to get help and opportunities to ask our journalists your most urgent questions. To sign up, text “hello” to 512-967-6919 or visit this page. — Bobby Blanchard

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