DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Many people are starting to thaw out in Texas but the effects of last week’s winter storm can be seen and felt statewide.
Most of the power has been turned back on, but millions still face water shortages. What is shaping up to be the state’s costliest storm is leaving many desperate for help.
Thousands remain in the dark and about 10 million still face water shortages.
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden signed a major disaster declaration to direct increased federal aid to the hardest-hit areas. Only 77 out of Texas’ 254 counties were included. State leaders are now working to convince the White House more help is needed.
“We will have to show county by county, dollar by dollar, to show that each county exceeds its thresholds. Now, in my opinion, I don’t think we will have a county that does not exceed its threshold,” said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.
Elected officials are also tackling a different kind of electricity issue haunting Texans: Many residents are seeing exorbitant spikes in their monthly power bills.
Texan Akilah Scott-Amos is one of them.
“I get my bill for Saturday, and my electricity bill for one day was $456,” she said.
She’s taking to social media with sticker shock after the bill kept getting even worse.
“For Sunday, for power, just for our regular stuff — $2,568,” said Scott-Amos.
Her bill for February is now topping $11,000.
She’s one of 30,000 customers whose provider is Griddy. Users pay wholesale prices for power — which fluctuates based on demand. It is typically cheaper than a fixed rate, as customers agree to flex-billing upfront. But nobody signed up for this.
“So at this point, you’re telling me for four days of electricity, I’m going to owe d*mn-near 10 G’s?? I don’t have the money for that,” said Scott-Amos.
In response, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a moratorium banning energy companies from cutting power to customers who can’t pay. This, while the state addresses the sky-high bills and a failed power grid.
“Don’t panic. I don’t have the answers today, but we’re going to figure out to address this properly,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “Because these people can’t afford to pay 15 and $20,000 bills … or super high bills.”
In the meantime, neighbors are looking out for neighbors.
As the feverish distribution of water, food and home repairs continue. They’re being led by volunteers with a helping hand the size of Texas.
Lt. Gov. Patrick said Monday that if this winter storm were a hurricane, it would have been given a category 5 rating. He called for companies and people to get prepared for winter weather as seriously as you would if a tornado or hurricane were forecasted.
Extreme weather conditions have been responsible for about 70 deaths nationwide. About a dozen of those are people who died inside homes that lost heat.