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Understanding the Aftermath of the Houston Freeze

Many Houston residents went without water or power during the city’s historic freeze, and not everyone survived. As of February 19, 2021, officials reported 10 hypothermia deaths and more than 600 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Three children and their grandmother were also killed in a house fire during the power outage, and Houston’s most vulnerable residents had to fight for survival.

Although authorities have not released an official death toll, some sources have the toll at 69 people – and counting.

Survivors Still Strapped for Resources

Even those who survived the harsh winter conditions are not out of the woods yet. Due to a drop in water pressure, Houston remains under a boil water notice, some people still do not have running water in their homes, and about 7,000 CenterPoint Energy customers were without power on February 19.

Due to panic buying, suspended school meal programs, and overwhelmed food banks, food scarcity has been an issue, as well. During the freeze, many people flocked to public warming centers and visited restaurants and other local businesses to borrow running water and warm up. At the peak of the winter weather event, 1.4 million Houston homes were freezing and without electricity.

People who were lucky enough to have power during the crisis now face electricity bills that cost well over $10,000.

Property Damage and Insurance Claims

On top of all of this, countless home and business owners suffered burst pipes and other property damage. According to KPRC 2 News at 4, thousands of homes and businesses were impacted, and Texas’ 60,000 licensed plumbers are scrambling to meet the challenge. Additionally, people with insurance policies are bound to face difficulties with their claims during the aftermath of the federally declared disaster.

If you have homeowners insurance or business insurance, review the terms of your policy and file a claim right away, as some insurance companies require you to file a burst pipe claim within 48 hours of the event.

Further, keep a record of every time you talk to your insurance company, including calls that nobody answers. Preserve evidence of property damage with pictures and physical proof (e.g., a piece of wet carpet in cases involving wet carpet).

If your claim is denied, ask an attorney for help.

Who Is to Blame?

No one can control the weather, but many argue the state of Texas should have prepared for unfavorable conditions. Many parties are blaming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for the widespread power failure during freezing temperatures, and 5 officials have stepped down from the board overseeing the Texas power grid.

Because ERCOT is subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature, the company may be immune to liability in lawsuits. That being said, the Harris County attorney is initiating a civil investigation into the decisions made by ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission, the district attorney in Travis County is opening a criminal investigation, and the State Legislature is holding hearings on the power outages.

In a statement, Governor Gregg Abbott ripped ERCOT’s assurances that the power infrastructure was prepared to endure winter conditions:

Those assurances proved to be devastatingly false…When Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power.”

One professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Auston, says in-state gas producers and power plant owners are on the hook, as well. These parties failed to spend the money to weatherize power sources simply because there was no law requiring them to do so.

Recovering From Losses

As the state searches for answers and accountability, as many as 69 people lost their lives, and others faced immeasurable economic and non-economic losses.

If you are one of the many affected by the Houston freeze, our lawyers at The Cox Pradia Law Firm, P.L.L.C. are here to help. We can help you find the liable party and hold them accountable for their actions in a personal injury or wrongful death suit or guide you through an insurance claim.

With more than 30 years of collective experience and a reputation for success, we are more than ready to handle your case.

For passionate and dedicated advocacy, call us at (888) 240-0843 and ask for a free consultation – or send us a message online today.

You will not owe us any legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

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