Dallas will give out water, money in response to winter storm
Dallas officials say they are working to distribute water around the city and provide financial aid to residents whose homes have been damaged by burst pipes.
The water distribution points will be operational through Saturday, Rocky Vaz, the city’s emergency director, said during a press conference Thursday.
It is unclear when financial support would be available or how people can apply. City Manager TC Broadnax said the city is looking for money.
The city announced Thursday that it is soliciting donations to a Dallas Foundation-managed disaster relief fund. The money is later distributed through grants to nonprofits to help communities with winter storm and power outage recovery efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending water, blankets, and other relief supplies to the state due to power outages, and some of them will likely be turned over to Dallas, Vaz said.
During a press conference Thursday, city officials urged residents to “be patient”, check each other out and call 311 for services and help for the city. Police and other city workers have brought food, water and blankets to people stuck in their homes, they said.
Although surrounding cities have released evidence of boiling water as the pipes freeze and burst in extremely cold weather, Dallas officials said Thursday that the city’s water was potable and in no danger of running out. But they urged people to save water when they can.
Terry Lowery, director of Dallas Water Utilities, said the city had received reports of more than 250 major breaks since Sunday. The city has also responded to more than 1,500 calls from customers with burst pipes.
The calls came from apartments, houses, and commercial buildings across the city, as well as from Fair Park facilities. Pipes have also burst in a women’s shelter in Dallas and a temporary shelter.
Water consumption in the city was 658 million gallons on Wednesday. She said that Dallas averages around 300 million in winter.
“It’s a combination of people who make faucets drip, burst pipes and head breaks,” she said after the press conference.
The city is deploying 40 trucks to keep putting sand on major roads, bridges, hills and other areas considered safety hazards due to ice and snow.
Brent Stidham, deputy chief of Dallas Fire-Rescue, said 15 fire stations were without power and some equipment was frozen. Firefighters responded to up to 2,800 calls in the first three days of this week – three times their typical volume. Most were either fires or helped shut off water due to major ruptures.
He warned residents who use stoves, space heaters and grills to warm their homes as they could increase the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Downtown Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will remain open 24/7 as a temporary homeless shelter and thermal center. OurCalling, a Dallas-based nonprofit homeless service that manages the shelter, said nearly 1,000 people are housed there as of Thursday.
The city has rented 19 charter buses and parked them in front of leisure centers and libraries so people can warm up, charge electronics, and get snacks and water. Some slept on the buses overnight.
According to Vaz, the city is looking into whether the recreation centers and libraries should be opened after the power supply is restored. He said earlier this week that the city would not open them because Oncor, the utility company for north Texas, was not making a promise that the buildings would maintain electricity.
Broadnax said the city plans to review its own response to the outages and extreme weather in the future.