Texas Blackouts Hit Minority Neighborhoods Especially Hard
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – When the lights went off Monday night at the Alazan-Apache housing project in San Antonio – which stands in one of the city’s worst zip codes – traffic signals in the neighborhood went off and shoppers pulled down their shutters .
For the residents, there was little left to do but leaned under the blanket and hoped that their children would not fall ill.
“I have to take my kids somewhere to keep me warm. I don’t know where, “42-year-old Ricardo lives in the Apache court with his wife and five children, who are between 5 and 13 years old, said Ricardo Cruz, and Joe Lightning from 7pm on Monday night Has been without
While rolling blackouts in Texas have left about 4 million residents brutally left without power in cold weather, experts and community groups say many marginalized communities were the first to be hit with power loss, And If history serves as a guide, Can be finalized. This is particularly dangerous, they say, noting that low-income families may lack the protection of financial resources to migrate, or to rebound after dissolution.
Experts worry, especially, rising energy prices amid rising demand The next month will leave many families unable to pay their utility bills, and trigger utility cutoffs at their most vulnerable times. In the Texas electricity market, prices can fluctuate with demand, causing a potential uptick in electricity bills in poor households that already spend a disproportionate proportion of their income on utilities.
“Whether it’s flooding from severe weather events like hurricanes or it’s something cold like this, our response to disasters is the history of how these communities are the first to be hit, and suffer the longest, “Said Robert Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern and an expert on environmental-related wealth and racial disparities.
He said, “These are the communities that have already been hit hardest with Kovid.” “They are two minimum-wage working houses that do not have the required employees to go to work.”
In Houston, local environmental groups said neighborhoods such as Acre Homes in the predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods northwest of the city were the first to lose power. “Pipes are starting to freeze. They are out of water and electricity, ”said Ana Paras, or Tejas, co-executive director of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service, a community group that serves local communities of color.
Many of the city’s most difficult communities already have poor infrastructure. “There is not much insulation in the homes there,” she said.
Research has also shown that in Houston and elsewhere, low-income, minority communities live closer to industrial sites, and are more exposed to pollution, a concern in the form of cold weather caused by large refineries and other industrial The sites are closed.
Large industrial complexes release pollutants into the air when they are closed, and resume operations. Before and after Hurricane Harvey, Houston Network of Petrochemical Plants and Refineries in 2017 Millions of pounds of pollutants releasedRaising health concerns in surrounding communities. And a power outage means that many aerial monitoring stations will likely be reduced.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Ms. Paras said, noting that “we live in the energy capital of the world.”
In San Antonio, some residents turned to their cars as a source of heat. On the way to a single-family home on the West Side street, Jesus Garcia was sitting in his car to keep the engine warm and charge his cellphone.
The 78-year-old lives on the other side of the neighborhood, but his house went dark two days ago. So he came to his friend’s place to stay. But his power was greatly reduced and even driving home last night was dangerous.
So he stayed a second night, unsure when, well, he would return home. “They got a lot of people to fix this stuff, but I don’t know what’s going on,” he said with a hut.
At a 7-Eleven gas station bordering the West Side, one of the few gas stations open, cars lined the road to buy fuel. Inside, most of the snacks and bottled water were gone. And the shop’s pipes were frozen.
Under Interstate 37, less than a mile from the city, about 20 tents protected some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, the homeless, from the deadly cold. They stood in groups around the camp, refueling with the wood of a Christian ministry across the street.
But a burst pipe meant that the ministry could not offer the rain that it usually does. Tonight, a Baptist church nearby is establishing a temporary shelter.
Desari Lee Garcia Curry, 37, said she would sleep in the city of Tent after missing a room in a hotel. A few nights ago, she slept under a plank as snow accumulated on the ground.
“The hotel let us stay all day but then threw me and my roommate out,” she said. “I’ve lost half my luggage.”
Greg Woodard also has a tent. Five days earlier, when the polar vortex landed in South Texas, the 39-year-old considered seeking refuge in another church nearby. But he was not allowed to bring his books. He studies at Almo City Barber College. “I decided to take my chances out in the cold,” he said.
James Dobbins reported from San Antonio, and Hiroko Tabuchi from New York.