The city of Lufkin is working on several avenues to restore power to its water plants so it can help the water supply recover after it was depleted Wednesday morning.
Three of the city's plants have been without power throughout the day, and a lack of power at the city's water wells is adding to the problem and preventing the supply from recovering, a press release from city communications director Jessica Pebsworth states.
While the city does have industrial-size generators, they have been knocked out because of the extreme temperatures through the night.
"We have crews out there now who are trying their best to get them online," Pebsworth said. "In the meantime, we will continue to check for main leaks while asking the public to check their homes and businesses for leaks – inside and outside."
During this time, many in the city have been without water, and this problem is not limited to Lufkin. All cities in Angelina County have requested residents limit water consumption as production and reserves have been hit by the winter storm.
Retailers have also been depleted in supply of water bottles and other water-related products.
Pebsworth said it is important individuals and businesses take care to monitor for leaks, especially as the city begins to regain water pressure and additional leaks begin to show.
Those who find a leak and cannot manage to turn their meter off are asked to call the city for assistance at 633-0356.
All those who are still able to receive water in Lufkin are under a boil water notice until further notice.
"We will continue working around the clock until water service is restored," Pebsworth said.
The Pitser Garrison Convention Center remains an option for residents as a cold-weather shelter through the end of the week.
"Power is available, but the shelter is without water for showers or restrooms. Portable toilets have been brought to the shelter. Food and bottled water are still available for those at the shelter," Pebsworth said. "We currently have about 80 people staying with us, and we have added the capacity for more beds."
The rolling blackouts mandated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas continue, and Gov. Greg Abbott said the state's conditions are improving but not yet to the point of getting Texas back online.
There are about 10,000 megawatts still off the power grid in Texas as of a 7 p.m. Wednesday update from Abbott's office. About 6,000 megawatts have been added to the Texas grid over the past day, which is equivalent to power for about 1.2 million households.
"In addition to the 6,000 MW restored to the grid, additional power generation from coal and other sources will continue to come online throughout tomorrow," the statement reads. "Small natural gas generators should sporadically add megawatts over the next 24 hours to help bring electricity to thousands of Texans. There are still challenges with all sources of generation, resulting from mechanical difficulties, gas supply issues and the effects of extreme winter weather conditions."
The governor has ordered natural gas producers not to export product out of state until Feb. 21 and instead sell it to providers within Texas. He is also working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to address water quality issues impacting communities like Angelina County across the state.
"TCEQ is working with water quality labs to ensure the safety of drinking water," the statement reads. "TCEQ is also working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify other water quality labs in partnering states to provide additional assistance."
The Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners is able to give provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers to increase the response to burst pipes and flooding, and the governor will also issue a waiver that allows plumbers currently holding an expired license to assist with Texans in need following the storm through the waiving of certain fees and examination requirements.
More than 4,500 Texas Department of Transportation employees are operating more than 740 snowplows and other equipment to address ice on interstates throughout Texas, and the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are also assisting in the state's response.
"The state of Texas is working around the clock to provide the resources, assistance, and support that our communities need to respond to the impacts of this winter weather," Abbott said. "We will continue to exhaust all available methods to restore power for Texans and ensure that our communities can recover."