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As it happenedended1613779964

Ted Cruz: Clinton hits out at senator for leaving dog as Biden to declare Texas a ‘national disaster’

Follow latest updates on Texas storm

Joanna Taylor,Louise Hall,Justin Vallejo
Saturday 20 February 2021 00:12 GMT
Cruz responds to criticism following trip to Cancun

Texans are contending with the unforeseen consequences of the deadly winter storm that has left hundreds of thousands of people without power and millions without clean running water.

Firefighters have been faced with frozen water hydrants while trying to control fires, while a couple caring for their premature baby were forced to ration his oxygen tanks. Pets have been found abandoned in the snow.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, has attempted to defend his decision to fly to Cancun, Mexico after returned home to jeering crowds. The US senator said he was just “trying to be a dad” by taking his daughters out of the freezing state to the popular holiday destination. He admitted that the decision was “obviously a mistake” amid calls for his resignation.

At least 56 people have been killed as a result of extreme weather conditions, including one man who was found frozen to death in his recliner.


Olivia Alabaster19 February 2021 09:47

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s Texas weather liveblog, which will be bringing live updates as hundreds of thousands face power outages and millions go without running running water, and taking in all the political reaction after Ted Cruz flew to Mexico while the crisis unfolded at home.

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 09:58

Ted Cruz arrives back in Texas to jeers and calls to resign

Texas senator Ted Cruz admitted his decision to fly to Cancun, Mexico with his two daughters was “obviously a mistake” as protesters chanted “Resign!”.

He added: “In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad.” His trip to the $309-a-night Ritz Carlton in Cancun amid power outages and water shortages sparked an intense backlash.

Cruz was among the millions in his home state going without heat or power when he decided to jet off on Wednesday. He said his daughters urged him to take them “out of here” after two days without power.

Cruz reportedly intended to stay in Cancun until Saturday, but touched back down in Texas on Wednesday. Sources close to him insist he intended to come right back all along.

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 10:16

Leaked texts show Ted Cruz’s wife bragging about Cancun trip

Heidi Cruz asked neighbours if anyone “can or [wants] to leave for the week?” as fellow Texans struggled with water and power outages in leaked texts seen by The New York Times.

The senator’s wife added that her home was “FREEZING” and that she was thinking of staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun where the Cruz family had stayed “many times”.

Ted Cruz’s wife boasted about Cancun getaway to neighbours

Ted Cruz had left for a vacation with his family even as his constituents were struggling without steady electricity, heat and running water in the middle of record-breaking cold temperatures

The resort costs $309 per night. Cruz has faced protests and calls for his resignation after he flying out to it and spending a night there.

In a statement on his return, he claimed that he had taken the trip to “try to be a Dad” as his daughters wanted to leave the freezing state.

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 10:39

Huge fire breaks out in apartment as firefighters struggle with frozen hydrants

More than 80 people were evacuated from an apartment complex in Bexar county, San Antonio, after a huge fire broke out according to local media reports. No deaths or injuries were reported.

Firefighters struggled to control the blaze as all of the fire hydrants in front of the building were frozen. They were forced to carry water in tenders and tankers as they attempted to fight the fire with limited resources.

According to a KSAT report quoting fire officials, the building’s residents received an alarm to turn off their water header shortly before the fire broke out on the second floor.

A fire chief quoted by local media said: “We’ll be here all night. So, you know it’s gonna continue, we don’t have the fire stopped yet so we gotta, we gotta, we gotta stop this thing.”

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 11:02

Cheerleading competition could displace sheltering Texans, residents fear

A cheerleading competition is reportedly set to take place over the weekend – in a convention centre housing residents sheltering from the winter storm.

There is some confusion among workers as to whether the “Spirit Celebration” at the Fort Worth Convention Centre will actually go ahead, but residents are worried that if it does it could displace those sheltering.

Texas accused of moving residents in order to stage cheerleading competition

The officials said the people would be moved to superior facilities

Around 170 people slept in cots at the facility on Tuesday night. A city media representative told the Daily Beast that guests would be transported to upgraded and superior facilities.

Mayor Betsy Price said: “As the power is restored across the city and fewer people need warming stations, we will demobilise the Convention Center tomorrow (February 19), and instead transport guests to smaller centres that are more appropriate for the number of people who need it.”

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 11:25

Couple forced to ration baby’s oxygen amid power outage

A Killen couple have been forced to ration their five-month old baby’s oxygen tanks amid a days-long power cut. Christopher Garcia was born premature with weak lungs and requires supplemental oxygen.

His mother, Angel Garcia, had been supplying him the oxygen using an electric machine until her home was hit by a blackout. “We’re not able to plug in his pulse oximeter to check on his oxygen. We’re keeping a constant eye on him to see how he’s doing,” she told CNN.

Texas family forced to ration oxygen for their baby

‘A lot of people don’t know the severity of what’s going on’

“A lot of people don’t know the severity of what’s going on,” she said. “People are tearing down their fences to burn. We started burning my daughter’s little wooden blocks because it was just too cold.”

She was able to access some gas for her family after waiting in line for an hour.

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 11:52

Pets are dying after being abandoned in the snow

Pet dogs and cats have been found abandoned in the snow by authorities in Houston.

Care groups and investigators have responded to numerous calls regarding animals left outside without food and with frozen water bowls.

A dog owner is facing charges after eight “severely malnourished” dogs were discovered in frozen temperatures. One had a broken jaw.

Six dogs were also found abandoned in an auto body shop, including one that had died.

Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez said: “Texas law requires pets to be brought inside during severe weather. It is illegal to restrain your dog under these conditions. Members of a countywide Animal Cruelty Task Force stand ready to respond.”

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 12:09

Texans share surreal photos of frozen fishtanks and iced over swimming pools

Freezing temperatures left one Texas home with a completely frozen fish tank.

A video of the tank, uploaded to TikTok, was captioned: “This is what it’s like like living in Texas right now. [I’m] literally in shock, wow”.

User ray.k13, who uploaded the footage, noted that her daughter’s goldfish had died.

Other people have uploaded photos of swimming pools and baths completely iced over to social media.

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 12:23

Texas power grid was ‘seconds and minutes' away from possible failure

The state’s power grid was just “seconds and minutes” away from total collapse, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Residents could have faced months of blackouts if this worst-case scenario was reached.

Grid operators made the quick decision to order transmission companies to quickly reduce power as massive quantities of energy supply suddenly began dropping off the grid.

Texas power grid was 'seconds and minutes' from months of total collapse

‘As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout’

This was intended to cause rolling blackouts across the state rather than a full shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are still without power.

ERCOT president Bill Magness told the Texas Tribune that the issue “needed to be addressed immediately”, adding that the grid was “seconds and minutes” from possible failure.

“As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout,” Bernadette Johnson, a power and renewables expert, told the magazine. “ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is because of those grid operators.”

Joanna Taylor19 February 2021 12:56

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