AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott said Friday, Feb. 19, he and other Texas leaders are focused on four priorities as the state begins to thaw out after winter storms with record-low temperatures and some 4 million Texans losing power.
Gov. Abbott said those are restoring power to all Texas homes and businesses, restoring water, insuring Texans have food and water and getting refineries back up and running.
Gov. Abbott said as of 3:00 p.m. Friday, there were still around 165,000 households without power due to downed lines or a need to be manually reconnected to the power system.
He said local providers working around the clock to restore electricity.
Regarding restoring water, he said he issued waivers to cut red tape to accelerate process.
The state is using mobile water testing labs and labs in Arkansas to test the water for safety.
Many Texans are enduring the aftermath of busted pipes. That will continue to be a challenge in the week to come as pipes thaw, then refreeze.
Gov. Abbott said he’s making it easier for people with some plumbing training to be allowed to help out as well as bringing in plumbers from other states.
Regarding food supplies, Gov. Abbott said Texas is taking additional steps to open new fuel supply lines so diesel trucks can get supplies to stores, specifically allowing use of off-road diesel on Texas roads and he requested a fuel waiver from the EPA to allow all forms of diesel on Texas roads to keep truckers moving, to get stores stocked more quickly.
Gov. Abbott also issued waivers suspending certain regulations to help facilitate the preparation and delivery of food for Texans.
Under these waivers, individuals and groups will be allowed to use unlicensed kitchens to prepare meals to donate to Texans so long as they follow the Department of State Health Services’ guidance on food safety.
“As the State of Texas responds to this emergency, we are using all the tools at our disposal to ensure Texans have the resources they need,” said Governor Abbott. “Temporarily suspending these regulations will allow Texans to prepare and donate meals to help ensure that families have the food they need to support their families.”
Gov. Abbott thanked linemen, plumbers, truckers, farmers ranchers, grocery store workers and refinery workers for their roles in helping Texas “make tremendous strides to overcome the challenges of the last week.”
Earlier Friday, President Joe Biden said he was making a major disaster declaration for Texas that will clear the way for more federal resources, and plans to visit the state at a time when he won’t be interfering with the disaster response.
The disaster declaration will unlock more Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources for Texas.
The president said he’ll sign the declaration Friday, after he signed an emergency declaration for the state five days ago.
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