AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two trucks of bottled water are scheduled to arrive in Central Texas on Friday morning to help people in need, according to Travis County Judge Andy Brown.
Brown said county leadership has been in communication with the Texas Division of Emergency Management about coordinating shipments of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplies, but were facing difficulty in transporting items due to icy roads. He said two trucks containing 18 palates of bottled water each were scheduled to leave a distribution center in Fort Worth early in the morning. They had plans to distribute that water to people county-wide.
Brown said they know that’s not enough for the entire need in our area.
“We still don’t at this point know the full extent of who doesn’t have water, right now,” he told KXAN. “That’s concerning.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) reached out to KXAN Thursday night with concerns of his own, worried thousands more liters of water, meals, blankets, fuel and even possibly dozens of generators were delayed in reaching Central Texas families and may still be sitting in that distribution center.
A spokesperson for his office said, “there appears to be a problem with getting them efficiently to Central Texans in grave need…”
They went on to say the congressman blames lack of preparation by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“He is deeply concerned and unhappy with the state’s apparent slowness of action to get these supplies to Texans in need immediately,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for TDEM confirmed they had already deployed nine generators and 81,000 liters of water, saying, “TDEM and FEMA are working in an around the clock partnership with our local officials to fulfill additional requests for assistance.”
At a news conference earlier in the day, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd said their priority was getting this type of emergency drinking water to every county in Texas. He said they were also working with the federal government and even other states like Florida and California to get help for places with industrial water issues, such as hospitals, but that was presenting more challenges.
Kidd also addressed the difficulties of getting generators distributed to facilities still in need of power.
“Putting a generator on a church or nursing home that doesn’t already have one is not as simple as going to Lowe’s or Home Depot and plugging in an extension cord and getting power,” he said.
He noted they are also working on bringing in ready-to-eat meals.
These efforts first began on Saturday, when Abbott requested a Federal Emergency Declaration in response to severe winter weather beginning to hit the state. That declaration was approved Sunday by the White House, authorizing FEMA to provide emergency assistance to all 254 of Texas’ counties. On Wednesday, three days later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced FEMA had supplied generators to Texas and “was preparing to move diesel into the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power.”
In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Abbott said he was working on other waivers and executive orders to help. By that night, his office had released an order waiving certain regulations with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to allow commercial vehicles to travel across the state, so long as they are registered elsewhere in the country.
“These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency,” the governor said in a news release.
It’s unclear if this latest waiver applies to the FEMA supplies referenced by Doggett’s office.
Abbott also vowed to make a formal request to President Joe Biden to get a major disaster declaration designation for Texas, which will allow people to apply for individual assistance from FEMA to help with repairs or broken pipes.
KXAN has reached out to the governor’s office for more details in distribution and a response to Rep. Doggett’s concerns. We will update this article as more details become available.