DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — It’s the tale of too many crises in Texas. The winter storm started out as a power emergency, now it’s a food and water shortage.
Shocking scenes coming from restaurants and grocery stores with empty shelves and the essential workers attempting to replenish them.
One shopper described the conditions as, “Nobody could get more than what you could grab in a bag.”
Another said essentials like bread, milk and eggs were long gone: “Bread. Absolutely ZERO. And if I can get some Bisquick I’ll be a happy camper.”
The artic blast shut down shopping for big box stores like Walmart and Publix. Devastating images circulated worldwide of winding lines and frantic buyers.
The regional vice president of the grocery store chain Market Street, John Jameson, said the long lines and shortages were also caused by so many people attempting to replace food spoiled when they lost power to their refrigerators.
“Anytime you run out of something, it does create a panic. Because the customer’s thinking when are they gonna get it again,” said Jameson.
Even H-E-B, a Texas favorite, temporarily shut down some of its locations. Employees handed out leftover flowers at one location to those who stuck it out in line.
H-E-B says it could take days to return to full capacity.
“We’re working with our suppliers and working together to do direct store deliveries on key items that have been really hurt during the crisis like milk, bread, eggs, water, where the storm really limited production capacity of all those facilities,” said H-E-B President Craig Boyan.
The historic event also rocked restaurants. One Vietnamese restaurant in Pharr, Texas had its inventory wiped out when power was cut to refrigeration.
“We are just cleaning and throwing things out because we are still out of power,” said owner Connie Nguyen. “Everything was spoiled, we started to smell the food was bad, we opened up the refrigerator and it just was not working no more.”
Nguyen says she’s afraid a PPP loan won’t be enough to cover payroll and lost supply.
Farmers at the root of the food supply did not escape damage in the winter storms.
“Those folks are suffering too through this time, because now the work has dried up. And that’s their livelihood…that’s how they put food on the table and pay their bills,” said Little Bear Produce’s Bret Erickson.
Widespread efforts to get essentials to Texans are underway with lines spanning blocks at food banks.
For the more than 8 million who still face water shortages, it’s all hands on deck. The United States Air Force now using black hawk helicopters to deliver more than a million water bottles. 4 million water bottles have been given out by the military statewide.
Some economic experts predict it will take another two weeks for things to get back to normal, especially with the pandemic requiring stores to limit the number of customers at a time.