Following a historic winter storm, relief programs have emerged while officials assess what responses worked and which ones didn’t during the emergency and its aftermath.
Hundreds of thousands of CPS Energy customers endured rotating or prolonged power outages for several days of subfreezing temperatures. The mercury dipped to record lows the week of Feb. 14, as two of the biggest snowfalls in nearly 40 years occurred days apart.
Those blackouts hampered efforts by San Antonio Water System crews to address water-pressure problems caused by pump-station failures and water leaks.
Thousands literally left out in the cold used social media and other means to share frustrations they encountered during and after the wintry blast. Many residents and merchants spent weeks fixing burst pipes and other damages.
Residents and merchants in Metrocom cities suffered power outages and water loss.
Venues such as the Schertz Community Center, the Judson High School gym, Crosspoint Church and Triumphant Lutheran Church became temporary warming centers for those without heat at home.
Area towns also partnered to confront challenges. Cibolo and Schertz public-works personnel collaborated to ensure there was enough crushed rock to treat streets.
“So, what you’ll find is a true spirit of cooperation and when the time comes to do those kinds of things, nobody cares who gets the credit,” Cibolo City Manager Robert Herrera said.
State leaders now are scrutinizing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid operator, which ordered energy providers to implement rolling blackouts to stabilize Texas’ power supply during the storm. Several ERCOT board members resigned.
The state also aims to help residents worried about exorbitant energy costs in the aftermath. The Public Utility Commission mandated the temporary halt of power or water disconnections over unpaid bills.
PUC also told suppliers to stop sending invoices or bill estimates to customers until overall future accounting issues can be addressed. Leadership at PUC, in hot water due to the deep freeze, is in transition.
For its part, the Cibolo Creek Municipal Authority, which treats most of Schertz’s wastewater, and the Schertz/Seguin Local Government Corp., which supplies the city’s water, both agreed to charge Schertz the lower water usage between January and February for services in February.
This means February’s bills were to be no more than January’s. If they used less water than January, there’s no adjustment.
SAWS’ patrons can apply for plumbing-repair reimbursement by visiting www.saws.org/cpr.
Eligible homeowners in area Bexar County suburbs and unincorporated neighborhoods may seek similar compensation by calling 210-631-5000 or visiting https://www.bexar.org/3360/Plumbing-Assistance.
In addition, Gov. Greg Abbott asked energy providers to improve equipment winterization.
“The state of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and uncover the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that the disastrous events of (February) are never repeated,” Abbott said.
San Antonians who sustained storm-related property damage or loss of personal property may visit https://strongertogether.sanantonio.gov or call 311, option 5, for aid.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg appointed a committee on winter-storm preparedness and responses. The panel includes Northeast Side District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, and is chaired by former District 8 Councilman Reed Williams.
“While many of the factors that triggered the devastating electrical and water outages in our community were not within our control, it is our duty to report to the community how our emergency-response operations and public utilities got in this situation and what can be done to be better prepared for the future,” Nirenberg said.