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When Will This End? What You Need To Know To Weather The Winter Storm Crisis

(Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

By Public Radio Staff

As of Friday morning, power has been restored to all but a handful of customers across West Texas. Warm weather is on the way this weekend into next week, but burst pipes remain a concern.

Marfa Public Radio is working to answer some of the most pressing questions locals are faced with — as they try to keep warm. Keep an eye on this article, we will provide updates as we get more info.

When will power be restored?

As of early Thursday morning, electricity has been restored to tens of thousands of West Texas customers. However, it is unclear when power will be fully restored, and there is still the possibility that power could be cut off again if the statewide energy supply can't keep up with demand.

AEP provides electricity to Fort Stockton and much of the Big Bend region, and you can check the latest AEP outage map here.

For the Permian Basin, you can check the latest Oncor outage map here.

The major decision-maker here is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the entity in charge of overseeing the Texas' electric grid.

They are currently unable to say when power will be fully restored.

If I need to warm up, where can I go?

Cities and towns across the region have opened warming shelters to serve people who've lost power. Unless specified, the shelters listed below are open 24 hours/day.

  • Alpine
    • Alpine Fire Department, 102 S. 2nd St.
  • Balmorhea
    Balmorhea Community Center, 108 N. Main St.

  • Marfa
    • Marfa ISD cafeteria, 400 W. Lincoln St.
  • Fort Davis
    • Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department, 202 Court Ave.
  • Terlingua
    • The Study Butte community center, 53633 State Highway 118.
  • Odessa
    • The Copper Rose Building, 415 N. Grant Ave.
    • Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 7601 N. Grandview Ave.
    • The Salvation Army building, 810 E. 11th St.
  • Midland
    • The Salvation Army of Midland, 600 E. Wall St.
    • True Lite Christian Fellowship, 3001 N A St.
    • First Baptist Church Activity Center, 2104 W Louisiana Ave.
    • Midland YMCA, 800 N Big Spring St., open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    • Presence Church, 901 Midland Dr., open until 5 p.m.
    • First United Methodist Church, 300 N Main St, open from 1-5 p.m. Use entrance off Illinois Ave.

How do I stay safe and warm at home?

DO NOT run your car in a closed garage for heat, bring a generator inside, or light a grill inside. These all present serious risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

With many people relying on camp stoves, gas heaters, and fireplaces for heat, it's important to take precautions to prevent house fires. Keep flammable material far away from open flames and gas heaters. Don't leave heaters or fireplaces unattended.

The Midland Fire Department is warning against burning wooden pallets in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Wooden pallets burn at such a high heat that they can cause chimney or attic fires. Additionally, pallets are often treating with chemicals that are harmful if inhaled.

Keep faucets and taps dripping to prevent pipes from freezing. With more cold weather on the way, this will help keep pipes from freezing and bursting. If your pipes are frozen, you can try warming them with a hair drier (if you have electricity). If your pipes are frozen and you don't have electricity, unfortunately there is not much to do until the weather warms up, at which point you should contact a plumber to check for any burst pipes.

Here are several safe strategies you can use to help keep yourself and others warm at home:

  • Close curtains and blinds for an extra layer of insulation over the windows
  • Stuff rags and/or towels under doors and around windows, this will help cut down on the draft.
  • Close doors to rooms that you are not using to avoid wasting heat.
  • Layer up with loose-fitting, warm clothing. Get under a blanket.
  • Eat and drink water, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

The National Weather Service sent out this graphic illustrating some of these strategies:

When will it be warm again?

We should begin to see temperatures begin warming on Friday and through the weekend. Some areas could see temperatures in the 70s by the beginning of next week. 

What if I'm scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine?

The severe winter weather though has stalled shipments of vaccine doses to providers and some people can’t make it their appointments to receive their vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the Moderna vaccine’s booster shot be administered 21 days after an individual receives their first shot. For the Pfizer vaccine, the CDC recommends the second dose be administered 28 days after the first dose. 

Both vaccines have about a four day grace period where the CDC states the vaccine can be administered. 

If you miss this five-day window to complete your course of vaccines you can still receive your vaccine and it will be effective, according to the CDC. The CDC states that a second dose of both vaccines can be administered up to six weeks after the first dose. 

If the current winter weather prevented you from getting the second dose of the vaccine, it's important you schedule a new appointment for your second dose as soon as possible. 

Odessa’s Mass Vaccination Clinic:

Updated 12:32 p.m.: Medical Center Hospital is canceling all of its outstanding appointments for the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This move will affect thousands across West Texas, but the hospital still plans to provide the second round of the vaccine to those who need it. 

The prolonged winter weather that's swept through Texas over the past week has delayed and disrupted shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine to Medical Center Hospital. Rather than rescheduling all of its appointments the hospital is pivoting to holding a four-day mass vaccination clinic at Ratliff Stadium, which is tentatively scheduled for Mar. 2 - Mar. 5.

The hospital is hoping to vaccinate 9,000 in those four days. No appointments will be necessary, just bring your vaccination card to the drive-thru clinic.

Medical Center Hospital is asking all of those affected to not call other facilities, like Midland Memorial Hospital, to get a second dose. All vaccination providers only have enough resources for those who received their first vaccine at their facilities. So if you got your second dose through Medical Center Hospital, you need to receive your follow-up shot with them too.

To read a statement put out by Medical Center Hospital click here.

Thursday, 9:31 a.m.: Medical Center Hospital is canceling its booster shot clinics for today at the two urgent care facilities the shots are being distributed from. The hospital has not specified the reason for the closure.

A virtual presser has been scheduled for 11 am this morning to brief the public on the situation. A stream to watch will be available on Medical Center's Facebook page.

Midland’s Mass Vaccination Clinic:

Midland Memorial Hospital is moving forward with it’s vaccination appointments as scheduled. If you cannot make your vaccination appointment the hospital will allow walk-ins for second doses for affected individuals at the Midland County Horseshoe Arena this week. 

Both of the hospital’s mass vaccination locations are currently open. If you need to reschedule or cancel a vaccination appointment call 432-221-4829 or email them at vaccine@midlandhealth.org

Pecos’ Mass Vaccination Clinic:

The Reeves County Hospital District is running the Pecos vaccination hub. Currently, the mass vaccination clinic has not received it’s shipment of vaccines due to weather delays. It has tentatively scheduled vaccinations Thursday and Friday but that could change due to the weather. 

For the most up to date information check out the hospital district’s Facebook page.