Millions of Texans still without power and safe drinking water

Over 14 million Texans are still without power and safe drinking water as the state tries to recover after a devastating winter storm crippled its infrastructure. For those who do have electricity, the bills are skyrocketing. Omar Villafranca reports.

Video Transcript

ADRIANA DIAZ: Good evening. President Biden today approved a major disaster declaration for Texas. That makes emergency federal aid available to those in the Lone Star State impacted by those severe storms and the record cold that pummeled the South this week. At least 50 people are dead, millions of others are left without power, heat, or clean drinking water.

A warm up is forecast for this weekend, but as temperatures rise, so does frustration.

CBS's Omar Villafranca is in Dallas with the latest. Good evening, Omar.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Good evening. Volunteers with Black Cross and Feed the People are sorting produce behind me here for a food drive. And in the last two days, this group has served 2,000 people. And what's happening here is a scene that's playing out all across the state of Texas, as millions of people are without food and clean drinking water.

Volunteers at this food distribution point in Dallas are packing boxes with the basics-- clothes, water, and food for hungry families.

In Fort Worth, hundreds of cars started lining up for meal kits hours before they were handed out. Julie Butner heads up the Tarrant Area Food Bank, which has seen a dramatic increase in those seeking help.

JULIE BUTNER: They need food and lost some food during the power outage. That, on top of job loss and the pandemic, folks just needed support.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: How long do you think you can keep going full-throttle like this?

JULIE BUTNER: We will continue to do it until it's not needed.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: There were also lines for water. Over 14 million Texans-- half the state's population-- are currently without safe drinking water after the storm knocked out electricity to water plants across the state.


The humanitarian crisis is also becoming a financial nightmare. The frigid temperatures burst thousands of pipes. Plumbers have been working overtime, but there aren't enough hours, and in some places, plumbing parts, to go around.

EVERARDO ALMEDA: You fix one and another one comes. You fix the other one, and it's a never-ending story.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Ed Hirs is an energy expert at the University of Houston and says those lucky enough to have power now may soon see staggering bills.

ED HIRS: Some customers are going to have hundreds of dollars of electricity bills per day that they're going to have to add up at the end of the month.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: So the next shock that's coming is a financial shock to the consumer?

ED HIRS: Oh, exactly.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: The higher the demand for power, the higher the price. In Houston, Megan O'Neil has seen her bill skyrocket to more than $1,000 per day.

MEGAN O'NEIL: It's like, OK, do I feed my family or do I run the heat? Which one do I do?

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott just held an emergency meeting with other state leaders to discuss the coming surge in all of those electric bills. He said Republicans and Democrats met together, but no plan was announced. Adriana?

ADRIANA DIAZ: So many families in need. Omar Villafranca in Dallas. Thank you.