Millions in Texas facing water issues as state still reeling from effects of deadly winter storm
Millions of Texans are grappling with boil water notices and other water-related issues Tuesday as the state is still reeling from last week’s deadly blast of wintry weather. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at one point Monday estimated that 8.7 million residents were under notices to boil their water before consumption – but that figure has fallen as of Tuesday as major cities such as San Antonio and Austin began lifting their warnings. "As of 6 a.m. CT Tuesday, more than 1,300 public water systems have reported disruptions in service due to the weather, many of them leading to Boil Water Notices," Gary Rasp, a spokesperson for the agency, told Fox News. "This is affecting more than 7.9 million people, in 204 Texas counties." The San Antonio Water System -- which serves more than two million customers -- wrote in a tweet that while most of its notices have been lifted, "we still recommend that customers flush household pipes, ice makers and water fountains prior to using for drinking or cooking." The demand for fresh food and water across Texas also remains high. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delivered more than one million meals to Texas, the Defense Department has delivered more than 4 million liters of water and it continues to deliver water in bulk to multiple locations in the state, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Graham Gibson was among those who showed up Monday at one of four water distribution sites in Dallas, which remain open Tuesday morning. "I've been using the pool water to flush my toilet," Gibson told Fox4 Dallas . "And we got the electricity back Wednesday night so it hasn't been fun." Snow and ice melted across Texas over the weekend, but plumbers are still racing from home to home to patch uncounted stretches of burst pipes. Many residents are unsure when they'll be able to make permanent repairs, what they'll have to pay out of pocket or even when they'll be able to go home. Roberto Valerio, a plumber in North Texas, told the Associated Press that the broken pipes and other problems caused by the winter storm have led to "big chaos." "We can’t find what we need easily," he said. "There’s a great shortage of supplies." In the Houston area, officials on Monday announced they have set up a relief fund to help cover the cost of repairs and temporary housing for vulnerable families. Nora Espinoza, a 56-year-old Dallas resident, is among those still getting a sense of the wreckage left by the icy blast that knocked out power to millions and contributed to nearly 80 deaths. Her kitchen appeared mostly undamaged, but the plumber that cut into Espinoza’s wall found water had been pouring in underneath the floor through a broken pipe. The seam that split in the pipe was narrower than the edge of a dime, the Associated Press reports, and she now expects the repairs to cost $15,000. In nearby Fort Worth, the city’s water department also has been responding to constant calls about water main breaks, according to Fox4 Dallas . The news station reported that, as of Monday, crews had repaired more than 360 of the breaks with at least another 250 more to go. The Associated Press contributed to this report.