Ice storm wreaks havoc in much of state
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Residents in Central and Northeast Texas are still cleaning up after a winter storm last week snapped power lines and tree limbs, causing widespread power outages, canceled flights and damage to homes and vehicles.
At its peak, nearly 400,000 Texas households were without power, according to poweroutage.us. As of Sunday, that number had dropped to 62,456.
The outages were due to downed power lines, not by problems with the state’s power grid. The Texas Railroad Commission said the state’s natural gas supply also held steady, with natural gas utilities reporting no service issues during the storm.
Airports in the state’s metropolitan areas reported several hundred flight cancellations because of icy conditions. Many schools in the Dallas area and around Austin were closed for the entire week.
The Texas Department of Insurance offered some advice to homeowners dealing with damage cause by fallen tree branches landing on vehicles and homes. That includes taking photos of the damage before moving the tree; making temporary repairs and contact your insurance agent as soon as possible; and saving all receipts for labor and repair materials to be reimbursed.
While the danger from last week’s storm has largely passed, the Texas Department of State Health Services provided advice for future winter events, urging people to use extreme caution with electric generators and heaters that produce carbon monoxide.
Generators should only be used outdoors, at least 10 feet away from buildings. Outdoor grills, camp stoves and other heaters that produced carbon monoxide should only be used outside. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause death.
Housing cost burden examined
The Texas Demographic Center has used census data to examine housing cost burdens in the state. That is when a household spends more than 30% of its monthly income on housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and other costs.
The center concludes that counties with the highest percent of households dealing with housing cost burdens are in the so-called Texas Triangle along the Austin-San Antonio corridor, as well as some border counties.
The study found that nearly half of Texas renters – 1.7 million — spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs from 2017-2021, with a median monthly housing cost of $1,146. Among homeowners, 21% experienced housing costs burden during the same period, with median monthly housing costs of $1,747.
Texas ranked 10th in median gross rent from 2017-2021. Hawaii was the most expensive state, followed by California.