Information On Warming Centers, Power Outages, Open Restaurants And The Second Round Of Expected Winter Storms In North Texas.

This story is developing and will be updated regularly.

Update as of 2:20 p.m., Thursday, February 18: Thursday morning Oncor said it had ceased controlled rolling outages. As of 2:20 p.m., 903 outages were still reported in Dallas County, with 33,164 customers still affected. Tarrant County was still reporting 1,166 outages with 36,752 customers affected, while Denton reported 88 outages and 1,272 affected customers. Collin County reported 182 outages and 3,448 customers still affected. The electricity provider also said there was significant amounts of damages to electric equipment throughout the state.

Update as of 1:19 p.m., Wednesday, February 17: ERCOT said early Wednesday morning it restored power overnight to about 600,000 households across Texas. By 12:54 p.m. Wednesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said there had been “modest improvement” but that 115,000 customers were still without power in the county. ERCOT estimates about 2.7 million are still without power in Texas.

Update as of 7:29 p.m., Tuesday, February 16: On Tuesday, Oncor said ERCOT had sent directives to the energy provider to reduce additional electric loads. Oncor said its customers should prepare for additional outages Tuesday night.

Update as of 3:35 p.m., Tuesday, February 16: In a press conference on on Tuesday, ERCOT said between 2-3 million people in Texas are without power as of now. ERCOT also said more outages could be expected tonight.

Original story follows.

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North Texas has been upended by a record-making frigid winter storm. Since early Monday morning, hundreds of thousands of residents all over the region have seen rolling blackouts. In many cases, these blackouts have turned into extended, ongoing shortages of power from providers like Oncor. Some residents have gone without power for more than 24 hours. By Tuesday Morning, North Texas reported its lowest temperature in 72 years, according to the Dallas Morning News.

A map of Oncor’s outages across DFW can be seen here.

Of course, residents have wondered how the largest energy producing state in the U.S. could be failing to handle an energy crisis at its own doorstep. Well, Texas has its own electric grid operated by The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) in an effort to avoid federal regulation.

The shortages came as energy equipment failed due the historically low temperatures. However, this isn’t the first time the state has seen something like this. Similar issues were reported in 1989 and again in 2011, but it doesn’t seem as if the state learned from its mistakes. After an investigation in 2011, recommendations were made to winterize — which means to use preventative measures so they can adapt to harsh winter conditions, if need be — the state’s energy equipment. However, Texas has deregulated its energy market, so unlike many other states, winterizing is not required here.

Essentially, the equipment needed the necessary upkeep for when another inevitable winter storm hit, but because this isn’t an every-year concurrence, Texas leadership simply has not consistently spent funds on maintenance to prevent it from happening again.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday denied the state’s power grid had been compromised. However, just 24 hours later, he flip-flopped — on par with the history of his leadership, or lack thereof  — announcing he issued an executive order to make reforming and investigating ERCOT an emergency item in the state’s legislative session.

On Tuesday, Oncor said its customers should expect continued “controlled outages” due to poor grid conditions as ERCOT is unable to predict when the grid will stabilize. ERCOT said due to wind and solar output, it should be able to turn power back on for some residents on Tuesday, and claimed power had been restored to about 400,000 households across Texas on Tuesday.

Another winter storm warning has been issued for Tuesday evening into Wednesday. Parts of North Texas could see up to 6 inches or more of snow from this second round. We will keep you updated here as conditions and forecasts play out.

Safety measures

  • If you’re using a car, grill or a generator to warm up, make sure it is not used indoors, including in garages.
  • Shut doors in every room to maintain heat — stuff towels under door cracks to conserve it.
  • Keep blinds and curtains down to retain any heat.
  • Eat and drink regularly to keep your body warm.
  • Don’t drive unless necessary. (i.e. seeking warmth, shelter, food etc.)

Donations

Warming centers

Dallas

  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center – Though it’s not an overnight shelter, this warming site will be open 24 hours a day until noon on Wednesday, February 17. Coffee and water will be provided, but food will not be. COVID-19 testing will be required, and safety protocols will be enforced, including mandatory mask wearing.  The building can be accessed from Canton Street. Pets are allowed.
  • Garden Café – On Wednesday, February 17, this East Dallas restaurant will provide coffee and warm meal until 6 p.m.
  • Samuell Grand Recreation Center – A chartered bus will open at this site at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17. Snacks and water will be provided.
  • Oak Lawn Branch Library – A chartered bus will open at this site at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17. Snacks and water will be provided.
  • Grauwyler Recreation Center – A chartered bus will open at this site at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17. Snacks and water will be provided.
  • Jaycee Zarazoga Recreation Center – A bus will be parked at this West Dallas site on Wednesday, February 17.
  • Skyline Branch Library – Open until 7 p.m. on Thursday February 18.
  • Timberglen Branch Library – Open until 7 p.m. on Thursday February 18.
  • Dallas-area YMCAs – The YMCA locations open until 5:30 p.m. for hot coffee, water stations, wifi and hot showers include: Moorland at Oak Cliff, Park South, Waxahachie Family, White Rock Family, J.E.R Chilton Family at Rockwall, Richardson Family, Cross Timbers Family and Semones Family.

Rides to warming centers in Dallas can be requested at [email protected]ll.com.

Fort Worth

  • Fort Worth Convention Center – This warming center is an overnight shelter and will offer cots from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The building can be accessed from the Houston St. entrance. Food will not be provided and COVID-19 screenings and protocols will be required. Those seeking shelter are asked to bring their own blankets if possible. Pets are not allowed.

Denton

Lewsiville

  • Music City Mall – This is a 24-hour warming center and will be open until at least Thursday, February 18. The entrance is on the lower level between Macy’s and Zion Market. This site is pet friendly.

Irving

  • Senter Park Recreation Center – This is a 24-hour warming center requiring face masks and social distancing. Pets on leashes or in carriers are allowed.

Arlington

  • Arlington Family Life Center – The Salvation Army and the City of Arlington have partnered to provide shelter at the Arlington Family Life Center until further notice.

Mesquite

  • Evans Recreation Center – Restrooms and outlets for charging will be available February 17-18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. No food or water will be provided.  Pets are not allowed.

Grand Prairie 

  • Ruthe Jackson Center – The City of Grand Prairie has opened this warming center for 24/7 operation until “weather improves.” Coffee will be available, snacks will not be If the center reaches capacity, visitations will be limited to two hours.

Garland

  • Holford Recreation Center – This warming center will be open at 5 p.m. on February 16, and will remain open until further notice. only open to senior citizens ages 65 and older, and families with children. COVID-19 screenings will be implemented and masks are required. Pets are not allowed.
  • Gale Fields Recreation Center – This warming center will be open at 5 p.m. on February 16, and will remain open until further notice. only open to senior citizens ages 65 and older, and families with children. COVID-19 screenings will be implemented and masks are required. Pets are not allowed.

Coppell 

  • The Core – Restrooms and outlets for charging will be provided. Residents are encouraged to bring their own food, water, blankets and other necessities. Pets are welcome.

If you have any questions about warming centers, call the community assistance helpline at 211.

Businesses open

Several restaurants, hotels and grocery stores across the Metroplex are open, but operation hours are subject to change depending on the weather. Call before venturing out to make sure. Here is a crowdsourced list of places open offering warm meals, wifi, charging stations and more from Dallasites101.

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