Jenkins Issues Disaster Declaration Amid Widespread Power Outages

As temperatures in the area reach record lows and many in the area remain without power, here’s what you need to know today:

  • Jenkins issues local disaster declaration amid record-breaking winter storm, widespread power outages;
  • Vaccine appointment delays continue;
  • Abbott sends additional resources to local officials;
  • Dallas opens emergency warming center. 
Jenkins issues disaster declaration amid record-breaking winter storm, widespread power outages

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Monday issued a local disaster declaration and executive order amid a record breaking winter storms and widespread power outages.

Jenkins’ order called for non-essential businesses to delay opening until 10 a.m., for manufacturing or industrial businesses that use electricity to refrain from any non-essential processes or operations Tuesday, and for residents and businesses to set their thermostat to 68 degrees. 

The order also targeted price gouging of things like groceries, restaurant meals, medicine, medical supplies/equipment, hotel rooms, and other lodgings.

“We are at an unprecedented situation with our power grid at this time because turbines have frozen and gas lines have frozen. We have less energy than we would normally, but we have much more demand than we have normally,” Jenkins said in a Monday evening Zoom call. 

As a result, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that runs the state’s power grid, directed energy delivery companies like Oncor to take a certain amount of power offline.

“In doing that, with the grid getting much worse over a period of time, instead of being able to roll to the next neighborhood or sector, many of you have been stuck without power for hours and hours,” Jenkins noted.

Oncor representative Carrie Dunn acknowledged a “substantial loss of generation across the grid,” and that the low temperatures caused increased demand for energy in the early hours of Monday, leading to the outages.

Dunn said Monday evening she was “hopeful that we will have generation recover,” and once that happens, that the company will be able to return to a more normal schedule of rotating outages.

ERCOT said in a Monday afternoon news release that the outages will likely last into today.

Tuesday morning, Jenkins tweeted the power generation increase ERCOT forecast for Monday night didn’t happen, causing ERCOT to call for an additional 500 megawatts to be pulled from transmission.

ERCOT confirmed the 18,500 shed number in a Tuesday morning tweet.

Vaccine appointment delays continue

COVID-19 vaccine distribution at Fair Park is closed until Wednesday, and county officials acknowledged there could be additional closures after that depending on the weather conditions.

“We will have sufficient supply of the vaccine to ensure all those who received their first dose of the vaccine at Fair Park, can receive their second dose. You will not lose your opportunity to receive your second dose, it will just be a few days delayed,” county officials said.

The county says they will prioritize second doses this week based on the date people were supposed to receive their second dose. 

For more information and to check for any weather-related updates on Fair Park vaccine operations, visit www.DallasCountyCovid.org. 

The county says 43,823 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic since it opened Jan. 11.

Dallas County Monday reported 730 more COVID-19 cases — 645 confirmed and 85 probable — and 31 additional deaths.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s reported a cumulative total of 421,413 confirmed cases, 33,742 probable cases, and 2,653 deaths.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are expected to continue to decline in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center data from last week. 

UTSW’s data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by 31% during the past two weeks. 

UTSW’s model projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County could reach between 440 and 730 concurrent hospitalized cases by Feb. 23, and roughly 1,100 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Feb. 23.

There have been 7,012 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 713 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County during the past 30 days.

There are 89 active long-term care facility outbreaks. A cumulative total of 4,098 residents and 2,304 healthcare workers in long-term facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Of these, 894 have been hospitalized and 518 have died. 

There have also been 13 outbreaks of COVID-19 reported  in congregate-living facilities such as homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes in the past 30 days.

A cumulative total of 383 residents and 194 staff members in congregate-living facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

 Abbott sends additional resources to local officials

Gov. Greg Abbott Monday announced that the state is deploying maximum resources to local officials throughout the state to respond to severe winter weather and to restore power to our communities. State agencies are sending resources and personnel to help local officials clear roadways and to assist essential workers, such as healthcare professionals and power grid workers, in carrying out their essential duties.

Abbott and the Texas Military Department have also deployed National Guard across Texas to conduct welfare checks and to assist local authorities in transitioning Texans in need to one of the 135 local warming centers that the state has helped establish across Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a strike force in charge of laying steps to re-open the Texas economy at a press conference in the capitol on April 17, 2020. (Photo: Miguel Gutierrez/POOL via The Texas Tribune)

On Sunday, Abbott sought and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Energy that allows Texas power generators to increase production. Unfortunately, some of those generators are unable to increase production at this time because their operations have been frozen by weather conditions. They are working to get their power production back on line.

“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power,” said Abbott. “ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible.”

ERCOT’s ability to provide power has been limited by the ability of private power generators of all sources, including natural gas, wind, and solar, to generate power for the grid. To avoid large scale blackouts and damage to the grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas began implementing outages to preserve the integrity of the power grid while the companies that generate power work to restore power generation.

Previously, Abbott issued a disaster declaration in all 254 counties, deployed resources throughout the state, and ordered the Texas State Operations Center (SOC) to expand its daily operations to 24-hours a day.

The governor also previously requested a federal emergency declaration for Texas in response to the severe winter weather, which was granted by the Biden administration.

Dallas opens emergency warming center

Dallas opened an emergency warming center Monday at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center at 650 S. Griffin St.

The warming center is a 24-hour intake until noon Wednesday.

Residents can access the warming center on Canton Street. The warming center is located in Exhibit Hall A. Residents will be provided a chair and table, and should bring in meals for themselves and their family if they are able to. Water, coffee, and light snacks will be made available. The warming center is not an overnight shelter and cots will not be provided.

A COVID-19 screening will be required at sign-in. No ID is required. The warming center is set-up for proper social distancing, mask usage is required.

The city of Dallas continues working to identify city resources such as recreation centers and libraries to be used as neighborhood warming centers and is working with Oncor to prioritize the sites for power restoration and exemption from rolling blackouts.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

One thought on “Jenkins Issues Disaster Declaration Amid Widespread Power Outages

  • February 16, 2021 at 7:31 pm
    Permalink

    ok this is a bit on the crazy side of things but i need to tell yall i take care of
    a infant grandchild with all this going on how are people supose to warm
    bottles and feed their family with no power and all we do is pay our bills —
    and try to follow whats going on now with all the pandimic now we got to deal with this crap
    i dont want to get sick and or my grandchild to get sick and i lose everything my pool pump blew
    up today now my pool is froze over are as well as others i know people are going to pay for the lose of items and or lives of pets and people and food loses in stock at out homes–I Will be on the side of any actions LAW SUIT of electrical appliances destroyed by your -purposly turning off power to friends neighbors and family . from there outside freeze protected devices as well as my $1000 pool equipment– …bet your ass.. Bitches—-quit fkin around with the electric.!!!!!

    Reply

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