In chilly temperatures, energy outages result in water issues Oklahoma Information


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Approximately 7 million people in Texas – a quarter of the second largest state in the country – have been ordered to boil or stop using all of their water as homeowners, hospitals and businesses struggling with broken water pipes, many in areas that are not used to dealing with persistent cold temperatures.

Winter storms last week in the Midwest, Texas and the South forced water service providers to make an effort to control the rivers as freezing temperatures were causing serious problems.

The Texan city of Kyle, south of Austin, urged residents on Wednesday to suspend water consumption until further notice due to a shortage.

“At this point in time, water should only be used to sustain life,” said the 45,000-strong city in a report. “We’re about to run out of water in Kyle.”

In Memphis, Tennessee, the energy and water company urged residents to reduce their water use by Friday.

Memphis, Light, Gas & Water announced in a press release that the distribution system is under pressure due to freezing temperatures this week.

The utility also said there are reduced reservoir levels at pumping stations and several water pipes have burst. MLG & W has asked customers not to let the water run when washing the dishes, to take a short shower and to do their laundry until Friday. Officials also urged customers to save water by allowing the faucets to drip instead of flowing water to prevent the pipes from freezing over.

Oklahoma City officials said on Twitter that power outages and extremely low temperatures resulted in disruption to water services and low pressure for customers. The crews helped turn off the water for thousands of customers who were breaking their private water pipes.

“Leave your closet doors open to allow warm air to circulate,” the city said in a tweet. “Do not try to use an open flame or boiling water to thaw pipes.”

Three hospitals in Shreveport, Louisiana lost water due to the storm, according to KSLA-TV. City fire trucks provided water and officials received bottled water for patients and staff.

In the southwestern city of Louisiana, Lake Charles, hospitals faced the possibility of moving patients to other areas due to low water pressure after a power outage, Mayor Nic Hunter said.

The weather also caused major disruption to water systems in the Texas cities of Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Galveston, and Corpus Christi.

In Austin, residents were told Wednesday night to boil their water after the city’s largest sewage treatment plant went offline. Meanwhile, the city’s fire department announced it had received hundreds of water pipe calls since Monday. On Tuesday alone, the department made 685 calls about broken pipes.

Also in Houston, residents were told to boil their water – if they were able to – because the water pressure dropped sharply due to the weather. Austin Water urged residents in the southwest of the city to boil water before using it for drinking or cooking.

Guides in Austin and the Houston area asked residents to stop water dripping from their taps because of a drop in water pressure.

The Nueces Brewing Co. in Corpus Christi offered water to those who were suffering from shortages. Gwen Ponder, the manager of the tap room, said they plan to dispense 2,000 gallons of filtered water originally intended for beer brewing.

“We like to do that,” said Ponder. “These are strange times.”

In Abilene, Texas, firefighters were hampered by low water pressure when trying to put out a house fire, the Abilene Reporter News reported.

“You had to watch the house burn,” said City Manager Robert Hanna at a press conference.

In Dallas, Gerry Gross tried unsuccessfully to reach the stop valve in front of his house after a pipe burst and let water flow through the wall of his utility room. Gross, 60, wore a knitted sweater and sweatpants in his rubber boots, and tried to use a wrench to open a metal cover on the sidewalk in front of his house that covers the valve.

Gross said he had been without electricity for 36 hours and the temperature in his house had dropped into the 30s when the pipe burst. He got power back on Wednesday, but he couldn’t get a plumber to fix the leak.

Gross wrapped the pipe in duct tape to try to dampen the flow into the room where his washer and dryer are, but it continued to seep through.

“If I call the city they’ll just turn the water off completely and who knows when I’ll get it back,” he said. “It’s kind of a Wild West out here.”


Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Janet McConnaughey and Kevin McGill in New Orleans, and Paul Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin contributed to this report.

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