About 7 million people in Texas – a quarter of the United States’s second-most populous state – have been told to boil their water or stop using it entirely as homeowners, hospitals, and businesses grappled with broken water mains, burst pipes and power outages due to a sustained cold snap that has turned deadly.
Police in Houston, the largest city in Texas, said on Thursday that a woman and a girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning after sitting in a car in a garage with the engine running to keep warm. Emergency medical authorities around the state also said that dozens of others have been treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
A dozen animals – including one 58-year-old female chimpanzee — died during the freeze at rescue sanctuary Primarily Primates near San Antonio, the organization said on its website.
Winter storms during the past week in the Midwest, Texas and the South forced water service providers to scramble to manage flows as sub-freezing temperatures set in. Nearly 3.4 million customers around the US were still without electricity on Wednesday.
The Texas city of Kyle, south of Austin, asked residents on Wednesday to suspend water usage until further notice because of a shortage.
“Water should only be used to sustain life at this point,” the city of 45,000 said in an advisory. “We are close to running out of water supply in Kyle.”In Memphis, Tennessee, the power and water company asked residents to reduce their water usage through Friday.
Memphis, Light, Gas & Water (MLG&W) said in a news release that it is experiencing reduced pressure across its distribution system due to freezing temperatures this week.
The utility also said it is seeing reduced reservoir levels at pumping stations and several water mains have burst.
Oklahoma City officials said on Twitter that power outages and extremely low temperatures had caused water service interruption and low pressure for customers. Crews helped turn off water for thousands of customers who had their private water lines break.