AUSTIN (KXAN) — One day after declaring a State of Emergency in Texas as historic winter weather pelts the state, Gov. Greg Abbott gave an update from Austin on Saturday.
The governor issued the declaration Friday afternoon as storms arrived — with more expected into next week.
“Texas should heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area,” Abbott said Friday. “These resources will help us respond to this severe winter weather and keep our communities safe. The State of Texas remains in close contact with officials on the ground and will provide any additional resources and support that are needed.”
This stretch of wintry weather is expected to last in Texas for at least the next few days, with snow predicted to fall across the KXAN viewing area starting Sunday.
Gov. Abbott spoke from the Alternate State Operations Center in Austin and said roads will be one of the biggest challenges, especially as TxDOT works to service 25 regions.
He said more than 1,000 roadway segments already have snow or ice on them and over 1,000 pieces of TxDOT equipment are deployed across the state.
Though the state agency started pretreating roads on Tuesday, he said the effectiveness is limited because of the ultra low temperatures. He warned that roads will be extremely dangerous and treacherous to be driving in, so Texans should avoid going out if possible. Road closures will be up to law enforcement and local officials.
He said if any drivers somehow get stranded or need help, to call the number on the back of your driver’s license or for roadside assistance, call 800-525-5555.
To find out more information about roadways, you can call 1-800-452-9292.
He also noted that DPS has already deployed 3,000 troopers working 24/7, and the National Guard is also assisting along with other state agencies to help stranded travelers and to help check on people throughout the state.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has deployed more than 400 vehicles and have search and rescue teams ready to help. The Texas Forest Service is also deploying crews to help clear roads.
Gov. Abbott also noted that he will be asking for a Federal Emergency Declaration from the White House.
Cold weather safety
Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said the state has been working with city and county officials to activate more than 30 warming centers statewide, while focusing on helping the homeless population.
Carbon monoxide exposure is a concern for those who may be at home, so he wanted to remind the public to not burn gas appliances for warmth, even if you are without power.
He also warned about the dangers of pipes bursting, as they can flood an entire house as soon as ice begins to melt. Kidd urged Texans to take precautions.
State officials also stressed the importance of conserving energy as these next few days of wintry weather pass.
Abbott said a big concern is exceeding power capabilities on Monday and Tuesday. Power companies have crews in place and also other resources have come in to help from other states.
Because there is so much ice on trees, compromised power lines are expected due to a large number of them falling.
Some tips for saving energy include:
- turn your thermostat to 68 or lower
- close your shades and blinds to reduce heat leaving home
- unplug non-essential equipment (toaster, etc.) it still draws current if it’s plugged in
- avoid using large appliances in peak which is morning and evening (washer/dryer, etc.)
If you encounter a downed power line in the road, do not approach it. You are asked to call 311.