Despite the temperatures rising and the snow melting, it will take longer to assess all the damage wrought by this week’s winter storm. We have updates about the storm and the ongoing pandemic.
- Local nonprofits face dire needs due to winter storm;
- Abbott provides update about storm response, Biden calls;
- TEA outlines districts options for return to class post-storm;
- County reports 50 dead from COVID-19
- Dallasite conveys weather feelings in song.
Local nonprofits face dire needs due to winter storm
Local domestic violence shelters Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Family Place have reported broken pipes and flooding during the winter storm.
Genesis Women’s Shelter shared on their Facebook page that pipes burst in transitional housing unit Annie’s House, flooding apartments, offices, and the on-site school, leading to the relocation of the residents there.
The shelter said they need blankets, warm clothing items, flashlights, batteries and meals, and are hoping to raise money to buy two commercial automatic generators. They’re asking for donations on their website for now because of the road conditions.
Pipes also burst at The Family Place, requiring 52 women and 71 children from their emergency shelter to be moved.
The Family Place is asking for donations to help provide temporary shelter, and necessities like blankets, coats, food, and more. To donate, visit their website.
Our Friends Place, a nonprofit that seeks to help homeless and at-risk young women, also suffered a burst pipe in one of their transitional living centers.
Our Friends Place is asking for donations to help cover the costs of repairing their young women’s home and providing temporary shelter for their residents. To donate, visit their website.
Abbott provides update about storm response, Biden calls
President Joe Biden called Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday night to discuss the federal response to the state’s weather woes, a readout of the call from the White House revealed.
“Tonight, I called Governor Greg Abbott to discuss the ongoing situation in Texas and identify ways we can support the state’s recovery from this storm,” the President said on Facebook. “I made clear to the Governor that I’ll work relentlessly to get his state what they need.”
“President Biden conveyed his support to the people of Texas in this trying time. He reiterated that the federal government will continue to work hand-in-hand with state and local authorities in Texas to bring relief and address the critical needs of the families affected,” the readout said. “He also shared his intentions to instruct additional federal agencies to look into any immediate steps that could be taken to support Texans at this time.”
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Homeland Security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall briefed the press in regards to the federal response as well.
Sherwood-Randall said federal response came as soon as the governors of the hardest hit states – including Abbott – requested help.
“And let me just note there is a silver lining to the very dark cloud of COVID, which is that our FEMA teams have been deeply embedded for quite a long time with state emergency preparedness and response agencies across the country and in this affected region. And so there’s a great deal of familiarity among the people involved in needing to work these issues now, because they’ve been working together quite a while on COVID response.”
The White House is also looking to the future, too, and what can be done to assist states in improving their infrastructure to withstand extreme weather.
“Going forward, we will be leading an effort to strengthen and harden our critical infrastructure so that it can be prepared to meet the full spectrum of challenges that we’re likely to face in the future,” she said. “We know that we can’t just react to extreme weather events; we actually need to plan for them and prepare for them.
“That’s going to require the kind of technology, innovation, and close collaboration among the federal government, states, communities, and the private sector that enables us to incentivize the kinds of actions that need to be taken to build critically — to build the kind of resilient infrastructure that we will depend on in the future.”
Thursday afternoon, Abbott briefed the press on the progress the state had made in restoring power, as well as the new challenges regarding water supply.
Abbott said he had declared a new emergency item for this legislative session, and tasked the state legislature with addressing the winterization of Texas’ power system and the necessary funding for it.
The state will also request a major disaster declaration from the White House, he said. The declaration clears the way for individual assistance, public assistance, and more, and will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage.
The governor said that every available repair truck in Texas has been dispatched to address downed power lines that are causing continued outages. He also held calls with power and water providers to develop strategies that will increase access to additional power, as well as restore water and expedite additional clean water in communities across the state.
“The past several days have been beyond challenging, but with every passing hour we are restoring power and water for families across Texas,” said Abbott. “We are doing all we can to make it through this challenge, and the state continues to deploy resources and personnel throughout the state. I want to thank the men and women who are working around the clock in harsh conditions to get the power up and running again, and I ask all Texans to keep them in their prayers.”
In a separate announcement, Abbott said he was temporarily waiving some regulations that required commercial vehicles operating in the state to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere and is engaged in weather response activities.
“They will also allow commercial vehicles conducting responsive activities not currently registered under the International Registration Plan to travel in Texas, so long as the vehicle is registered in one of the 48 contiguous states in the U.S.,” the governor’s office said. “These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.”
And in further good news, Friday morning Oncor and ERCOT said they expect to come out of emergency conditions today, but that conservation will still be key for several more days.
TEA outlines districts options for return to class post-storm
Power may be slowly being restored across the state, but school districts are also dealing with damage done by the storm, water service disruptions, and water pipe breaks – all things that could delay the restart of in-person instruction.
To that end, the Texas Education Agency Thursday afternoon announced additional flexibility for districts as they navigate the coming days.
According to an update provided to districts, they have three options: return to in-person instruction (with virtual instruction for families who have opted for that this grading period), submitting a waiver to provide all-remote learning if the district continues to experience “infrastructure issues because of the outage and its related impacts;” or remaining closed if the issues are dire enough that even remote learning is not feasible, which requires a missed school day waiver.
County reports 50 dead from COVID-19
Dallas County Thursday reported 266 more COVID-19 cases — 210 confirmed and 56 probable — and 50 additional deaths.
The additional deaths reported Thursday include two Dallas men in their 20s, and a man in his 30s who lived at a Dallas long-term care facility.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dallas County’s reported a cumulative total of 242,094 confirmed cases, 33,955 probable cases, and 2,751 deaths.
Dallas County reported 596 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, and the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County was 373 for the same time-period, which represents around 20% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
“These last few days have been about survival and I know many of us have been forced to be in close quarters with people that we are not normally around. The rules still apply to protect yourself from COVID-19: wear a mask, maintain distance, avoid crowds and forgo get-togethers,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
The county also reports 90 active long-term care facility outbreaks. A cumulative total of 4,155 residents and 2,315 healthcare workers in long-term facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these, 921 have been hospitalized and 555 have died. About 22% of all deaths reported to date have been associated with long-term care facilities.
The county’s also reported 14 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities, such as homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, in the past 30 days. A cumulative total of 385 residents and 194 staff members in congregate-living facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The weather’s paused COVID-19 vaccination efforts for the county this week.
Dallas County’s Fair Park vaccine operations will resume from 1-6 p.m. Sunday for those who were due for their second shot Feb. 12 or earlier. Those with last names A-M are asked to arrive between 1 and 3:30 p.m., and those with the last names N-Z are asked to arrive between 3:30 and 6 p.m.
Vaccination efforts will continue there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday for those due for their second shot Feb. 13 or earlier. People are asked to arrive Monday around the same time they received their first dose.
Vaccination efforts at Ellis Davis Field House and Dallas College – Eastfield campus were also closed Friday.
Those with COVID-19 vaccination appointments at those sites can go to Parkland Memorial Hospital, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd. at their designated appointment time. If they are unable to travel to the hospital, Parkland will notify patients through text message, MyChart, or email to reschedule their appointment.
Parkland-operated COVID-19 walk-up testing sites at Sam Tasby Middle School in Dallas, Irving Health Center and West Dallas Multipurpose Center were also closed Friday.
Dallasite conveys winter weather feelings in song
And finally, if you need a little levity after a very hard week, AT&T Performing Arts Center spokesman and vice president for external affairs Chris Heinbaugh got out of his house to sing an ode to “Dallaska.”