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“They were breaking up furniture to burn and try and stay warm,” Texans talk about aftermath of winter emergency

Knoxville WVLT-TV logo Knoxville WVLT-TV 2/19/2021 Casey Wheeless
a person holding a sign: Casey Wheeless's sister talks about conditions in Austin. © Provided by Knoxville WVLT-TV Casey Wheeless's sister talks about conditions in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas. (WVLT) - Even though the number of businesses and homes without electricity has dropped, there’s still a significant amount of problems from the winter emergency happening in Texas.

Burst frozen pipes forced the Governor to ask for help from out-of-state plumbers. Other counties were warned that their water could be contaminated and need to be boiled.

WVLT News Anchor Casey Wheeless has family in Texas. She spoke with her sister, Hannah who lives in Austin.

“It’s been pretty chaotic,” she said. “We’ve been pretty lucky,” said Wheeless who has maintained power at her home, but running water has been a problem. Her boyfriend, Sam Chortek, lost power at his house early Monday morning. It came back on Thursday.

“We went out to hopefully get into a grocery store to get water and food,” she said. “Saying the line was wrapped around the building wasn’t even enough. As soon as I saw it I immediately had to film it because I knew people wouldn’t believe how long that line was,” she said. “People were walking all over the streets looking for water and looking for warmth,” said Wheeless.

Chortek luckily has a car with 4-wheel drive and tried to find water to bring to people who needed it.

“I have friends who have chimneys in their apartments that were breaking up furniture to burn to try and stay warm. A family of 6 people with no power that just came on yesterday afternoon so, over 72 hours without water and a power source,” Chortek said seeing the community come together is empowering. “It’s been pretty crazy hearing from people, but it’s awesome seeing the resilience of people wanting to help and send supplies.”

Temperatures in Texas are expected to eventually warm up, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked President Biden to declare a major disaster declaration.

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