Fallout continues from a catastrophic winter storm that slammed the central and southern parts of the country. It brought dangerous cold, snow and ice to Texas, which is considered the epicenter. At least 46 deaths are tied to the storm. Omar Villafranca reports.
- The continuing fallout from that catastrophic winter storm that slammed the central and southern US this week. At least 46 deaths are linked to the storm. Texas is the epicenter of the disaster. Overnight, this hotel north of Austin was engulfed in flames. It was filled to capacity. And most of the guests were people displaced by the storm. Everyone made it out safely.
The power is back on for the vast majority of customers throughout the state following five days of blackouts and subfreezing temperatures. But this morning, a new crisis is emerging. The effects of the storm leaving food and safe drinking water in short supply for millions of Texans. Omar Villafranca is in Dallas. Omar, any good news for us?
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: Not quite yet. So many pipes and water mains burst across the state that about seven million people, a quarter of the state's population, they don't have access to safe drinking water, and they're under a boil advisory. You can see the Dallas skyline behind me. It's starting to turn back on as power gets back on the grid. But now leaders are playing the blame game.
GREG ABBOTT: Now what happened is ERCOT fell short.
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, laying the blame on ERCOT, the nonprofit cooperative that manages almost all of Texas's power grid. Abbott calling for state lawmakers to investigate and to winterize power generators to prevent future cold weather outages.
GREG ABBOTT: Even if it means the state stepping up, providing funds to ensure that all of the machinery that froze up and was unable to generate the power you need. That may require funding. The state of Texas should step up and provide that funding.
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: But investigations and upgrades will wait for another day. With safe water in short supply for millions, Texans lined up Friday. 13,000 cases of water were given away at this distribution site in Houston, one of dozens statewide.
- I'm under a boil notice too in Fort Worth, but I have no water coming in my home whatsoever. I've got six little ones that I need to take care of.
- I've been up since 5 o'clock, and I've been on the road since 6:00. And I know it's 11:30, but I'm going to sit here until-- I mean, I have no choice. All the stores in my area are out of water.
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: With many store shelves bare, food banks are seeing the spike in demand. In the Dallas area this weekend, they're preparing to give out 25,000 meals.
- We definitely anticipate there's going to be a surge in the need for emergency food.
BOB STEVENSON: All I did was put out the call, say, hey, I need help. They said we'll be there.
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: Bob Stevenson is one of nearly a dozen Dallas area restaurant owners cooking and serving hot meals to anyone finding it hard to feed themselves this week.
- Packing is in full swing.
- And more help came from hundreds of miles away. Charity workers for a Jewish organization in New Jersey drove through the night to deliver traditional Friday night Shabbat meals for a Dallas congregation.
- Here we go. Mission-- Dallas, Texas.
OMAR VILLAFRNACA: President Biden is expected to sign a major disaster declaration, which will bring more federal aid to the state. And President Biden may also visit but only if it doesn't disrupt the relief efforts. And Jeff, it's also worth noting that mother nature is actually going to cooperate because the high temperatures across the state as we begin cleanup will be in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
JEFF GLOR: Finally, some good news. All right, Omar, thank you very much.