The temperature of Texas in the southern United States, which was hit by a rare winter storm, began to rise on the 20th, but local food and drinking water supplies are still tight. In addition, some necessities and electricity prices have also skyrocketed.
A rare winter storm has caused a number of power outages in Texas in the southern United States. Affected by the cold wave, Texas’ water supply, energy, and food supply have been severely challenged.
On February 18th, people lined up in Houston, Texas, USA to enter a supermarket for shopping. Some supermarkets have introduced current limiting measures, and customers have to queue to enter the supermarket to purchase.Xinhua News Agency
According to a website that monitors electricity supply across the United States, as of the afternoon of the 20th, more than 54,000 households in Texas were experiencing power outages, a sharp drop compared to the 19th. However, there are still more than 150,000 people in the state that have interrupted water or tap water. The water quality is abnormal. Nearly half of the residents in the state need to boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking it. Officials from the Texas Environmental Quality Agency said that the water supply is still improving.
Food supplies in Texas have not returned to normal on the 20th. The ready-to-eat foods in large supermarkets have been sold out, and the stocks of commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, vegetables and fruits are obviously insufficient, and most supermarkets also sell bottled water in limited quantities.
On February 15, a gas station was closed due to a power outage in Houston, Texas.Xinhua News Agency
At a press conference held on the 20th, Texas officials said that the state has ordered 10 million bottles of bottled water and more than 5 million ready-to-eat foods, which will be distributed to people in need throughout the state. In addition, 331 cold protection centers in Jeonju are still open. In large Texas cities such as Houston and Dallas, a number of organizations have distributed free bottled water and food to the public throughout the past few days.
While Texas residents are still worrying about food and drinking water, some families are surprised to find that they have received sky-high electricity bills. A resident of northern Texas told Fox News that he was a user of Netdi Energy. During the winter storm, although the whole family tried to save electricity as much as possible, the electricity bill in five days was as high as $17,000. Another Houston resident said that her electricity bill for the past week was $5,500.
Netdi Energy Company implements real-time floating electricity prices. Before the winter storm came, the company had advised users to switch to other power suppliers to avoid excessive electricity bills, but many users found that other suppliers no longer accepted new customers or took several days to complete the procedures.
In addition to sky-high electricity bills, Texans have also noticed recent increases in the prices of hotels, gasoline and even bottled water. Gasoline prices in large Texas cities on the 20th rose by one to two percent compared to before the winter storm. It is also reported that some unscrupulous merchants split boxes of bottled water and sell them in bottles. The price of each bottle is two to three times the original price.
On February 19, in a supermarket in the northern suburbs of Dallas, Texas, there were very few goods on vegetable shelves.Xinhua News Agency
Some officials said that some unscrupulous businesses used the natural disaster as an opportunity to make huge profits. Houston opened its price reporting system on the 17th and received 450 complaints in the first 20 hours.
According to Texas law, it is illegal to arbitrarily increase the price of food, medicine, gasoline and other necessities during a disaster. The government urges the public to continue to report price hikes.
This rare cold snap has directly or indirectly caused dozens of deaths. Experts predict that over time, the number of related deaths will continue to rise.
In addition, extreme weather has caused large-scale delays in the supply and vaccination of the new crown vaccine in Texas. Due to the suspension of vaccine transportation due to snow and icing, many vaccination centers were forced to close, and some scheduled vaccinations had to be cancelled. The health department said that at least the vaccination will not resume until the road conditions improve.
At present, the US government has announced that parts of Texas have entered a “major disaster state,” and the federal government’s rescue personnel and supplies are gradually being put in place.
(Xinhua News Agency, Houston, February 20th, reporter Gao Lu)
“Guangming Daily” (version 12 on February 22, 2021)
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