Houston: Mismanagement of Winter Storm Endangers Millions of Residents

By Trent Moss

Capitalist mismanagement has left over a million Houston residents without power and many without water and food in the face of a massive winter storm that engulfed Texas on Sunday night.

Some residents have been without power since Sunday while others have been subject to rolling blackouts which have been implemented without notice or schedule. Despite power outages and below-freezing temperatures, CenterPoint Energy sent residents electricity bills, brazenly attaching to them a list of ways to stay warm. CenterPoint does not forecast power to return to most people until February 20 at the earliest.

More than 300 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning have been reported in Harris County as people use gas appliances to stay warm. This has resulted in the deaths of several people, most of whom are young children.

The city’s failure to weatherize infrastructure has led to many burst pipes ruining people’s homes, and the city has stated that it is not liable for damages. Many people are currently without water, and the entire city remains on a boil-water notice. Hospitals have had to cancel appointments and limit services due to the lack of water.

Most grocery stores and restaurants are closed or operating at reduced capacity. The few open grocery stores have empty shelves, and the purchase of staples such as bread, eggs, milk, and bottled water is being rationed. Stores across the city took advantage of the precarious conditions to increase the price of goods. 24-Seven, a convenience store in the 3rd Ward, hiked the price of cases of bottled water to $36 and gas prices to $2.45.

For those unable to stay at home, the city opened one public shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center. One family who lives in the Parker Square apartment complex told Tribune how they struggled to get from their apartment to the convention center:

“The apartment manager left us in the dark and wouldn’t clear out the snow in the parking lot so that we could make our way to someplace warm.” After traveling for miles on icy highways, trying to avoid any accidents, they arrived at the convention center only to be turned away, as the center had met the 800-person capacity.

In nearby Galveston County, officials have requested a refrigerated truck to store the bodies of people who froze to death. As statistics pile up for those who have died from exposure, traffic crashes, and carbon monoxide poisoning, it is clear that forces of nature are not responsible for these deaths but the pursuit of profit that has cost the lives of so many.

Tribune encourages our readers to support revolutionary activists working to serve the people in this capitalist unnatural disaster. Groups such as United Neighborhood Defense Movement have been organizing to meet the needs of people on the ground. Donate here: https://fundrazr.com/f1mA77


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