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People in Texas say they’re running out of food as power outages continue to wreak havoc on the state amid a rare winter storm.
Photos from grocery stores show long lines and scarce shelves, and Texans are scrambling to figure out what to do next, the Texas Tribune reported Wednesday night.
According to The Tribune, the storm has disrupted the state’s food supply chain — fruit and vegetable crops in the state froze over during the storm, meat spoiled at grocery stores when the power went out, and shelves are running low on food.
Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told The Tribune that diary farms, meanwhile, are pouring $8 million worth of milk down the drain each day because they can’t preserve it.
“All of the milk processing plants are full, they can’t get enough electricity to run, and if they could, they can’t get enough natural gas to pasteurize the milk,” Miller told The Tribune. “So grocery store shelves are basically empty. There’s no dairy products flowing to Kroger or H-E-B or places like that, so we’re as bad as it was when COVID hit, could possibly get worse.”
Additionally, at least eight food banks have asked for extra assistance, Celia Cole, the CEO of hunger-relief organization Feeding Texas, told The Tribune.
“They’ve been very, very badly hit — the agricultural sector, generally — by the pandemic, so they’re already struggling,” Cole said.
Many families haven’t had a warm meal in days because of the outage, and some have turned to cooking meals in their fireplaces or on grills.
A friend in SW Austin sends this video of a line outside a grocery store.
Only 15 items allowed at the checkout. pic.twitter.com/pwUwQQbrhk
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 16, 2021
“It was out of meat, eggs and almost all milk before I left,” Austin resident Cristal Porter told the Tribune about a local Target on Monday. “Lines were wrapped around the store when we arrived… Shelves were almost fully cleared for potatoes, meat, eggs and some dairy.”
When a neighbor visited the same Target on Wednesday, Porter said, the store was completely out of food.
Photos from grocery stores in Houston and Dallas show people shopping in near-darkness, with one frozen food aisle blocked off with caution tape.
As the storm hit over the long weekend, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency, giving Texas aid for sheltering and mass care, and the Department of Energy issued its own emergency order allowing state power plants to produce more electricity to help with the loss of power.
But the power grid suffered in several ways — some power plants failed because of frozen natural gas resources and the electric generators were not prepared for winter, all while colder weather meant higher demand for power as Texans used electric furnaces to warm their homes.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees most of Texas’ power grid, said on Wednesday that it was unsure how long the outages would continue.