Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge community steps up in winter storm crisis; more cold weather expected

Breckenridge community steps up in winter storm crisis; more cold weather expected
February 15
17:39 2021

UPDATE: After Breckenridge’s electric power was restored Monday afternoon, it was cut off again early this evening, creating another dangerous night for those with no heat. Temperatures are expected to be near 0 degrees overnight.

“On one of the coldest nights this week, the commission that regulates power grid in Texas has decided to turn off power again to stabilize the grid in Texas, and, as a consequence, we’ve lost power here in Stephens County again,” said County Judge Michael Roach. “It’s probably going to be for extended periods of time. We won’t know when it’s going to be restored, and it’s probably going to last a while.”

The temporary shelter at The Lighthouse Church, 1509 E. Walker St., still has power and will be opened up again as soon as possible. “And then we’re working on an alternative shelter, because we expect, being cold as cold of a night as it is, that we’ll have more people and than our shelter can hold,” he said.

Anyone in Breckenridge or Stephens County who has lost electric power and has no heat in their house needs to call the Breckenridge Police Department’s non-emergency number, 254-559-2211, and request assistance. If you need transportation, someone either will come and pick you up. A bus has been arranged to pick up groups of people, and all local law enforcement are helping make sure everyone is safe.

In case of an emergency situation call 9-1-1.

Those going to the shelter should be prepared to spend the night, bringing with them a pillow and blanket, if possible.

“My understanding from Oncor and TXU is that this is not a rolling blackout,” Roach said in a Facebook Live video at about 6:15 p.m. “This is a power shortage. So, there is more demand than there is supply in the Texas grid. So, that means that we’re going to be without power for an extended period of time. No one knows when the power’s coming back on. My guess is, this will extend, like the last outage, for a number of hours.”

Large, aggressive pets will not be allowed in the shelters, but small, docile pets may be allowed, Roach said, if no other arrangements are possible.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to assist with the situation can go to The Lighthouse Church, 1509 E. Walker St.

 

Original story, 5:40 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15:

By Carla McKeown and Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

When the rolling blackouts turned into long-term power outages in Breckenridge and Stephens County today, Monday, Feb. 15, the community pulled together to make sure those without heat and food were provided for. Assistance will continue to be provided as the electric power situation remains uncertain.

Temporary shelters, aka warming centers, were set up at The Lighthouse Church and St. Andrews Anglican Church for local residents who had no electric power or heat at their homes. First United Methodist Church was initially intended to be a warming center, but that plan was canceled when the church’s power went out.

Law enforcement officers, other first responders, volunteers and others drove all over the county, picking up citizens from their cold homes and taking them to the shelters that were set up.

“I cannot say enough good things about the response of our community today,” Stephens County Judge Michael Roach said. “It really has been amazing, everybody pitching in to help. It’s been first class…churches and first responders, police officers, firefighters, AMR… dispatch calling special folks to help assist them, off-duty folks and people transported individuals to shelters. It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of a situation, and it was just absolutely amazing. Members of the community brought food. Churches brought food to the shelters, and the Anglican Church — St Andrews — opened their doors too, and without anybody requesting them to; they just did that, which was amazing. It was great. We had plenty of food. It was amazing.”

In many situations, those helping with the community response to the winter storm followed up on requests to check on people who were thought to be without power, heat or transportation.

At Stephens Memorial Hospital, employees with four-wheel-drive vehicles volunteered to make the Senior Meals deliveries today, so that none of the senior citizens who are signed up for the program missed their regular meal, said Chris Curtis, Director of Business Development for SMH.

“A lot of the people that we delivered here didn’t have power, so they hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and that was their breakfast,” Curtis said. “But so many of them are unwilling to go to the shelters because they don’t leave their house.”

Electric Power

By 3 p.m. Monday, electric power has been restored to much of Breckenridge and Stephens County and most of the local residents who had sought shelter at the two warming centers that had been set up by emergency managers had returned home, Roach said. However, power went off again in town around 5:30 p.m.

The electric grid in Texas remains stressed, and area residents could experience rolling blackouts or even prolonged power outages again within the next 24 to 36 hours, according to information from Oncor and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

As dusk draws near, those who are still without power are being provided with overnight accommodations. Additionally, if more long-term power outages occur, an overnight shelter will be set up, Roach said.

Anyone who is without power and/or heat is encouraged to call the Breckenridge Police Department’s non-emergency number — 254-559-2211 — to make arrangements for a warm place to stay for the night. Transportation will be provided when needed.

Roach said local officials have tried to get a timeline on when full power will be restored to the community, but that information has not been available.  Additionally, they do not know when additional power outages or rolling blackouts will happen.

“If you don’t have power, hang in there. If you can’t, reach out to 254-559-2211, and what we’ll do is we’ll put you in a shelter,” he said in a Facbook Live video Monday afternoon. “We have a warm place to put you and get you comfortable. Don’t be freezing at home; don’t risk your health. Please reach out to us; we’re here to help you, and we can do that.”

Road conditions

Crews have been snow-plowing, salting and blading main roadways in Stephens County, including the Farm to Market roads, so they were fairly clear Monday afternoon, Roach said. However, the smaller roads are still snow-covered and may be more dangerous.

Additionally, he said, when any snow that has melted today re-freezes after dark, the roads could become slick again.

Texas Department of Transportation roadway conditions statewide are available at DriveTexas.org or by calling 1-800-452-9292. The Brownwood District Twitter feed (@TxDOTBWD) will be updated as road conditions change. Other TxDOT Twitter feeds and the TxDOT Facebook page are also resources for travel conditions across the state.

Breckenridge Schools

Breckenridge Independent School District will not have classes on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

In a statement on the BISD Facebook page, Superintendent Bryan Allen said, “Due to extremely low temperatures forecasted for tonight, along with the potential for continued rolling blackouts and potential water line issues at our campuses, the decision has been made to cancel school tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021). Our forecast calls for another potential round of winter weather tomorrow afternoon/night. A decision about Wednesday will be made by 7 p.m. Tuesday night.”

The Breckenridge High School Athletic Facility was set up as an emergency shelter Sunday night when a blown transformer cut off power to the Hubbard Creek Lake area. However, so few people needed the shelter that it was shut down. It may be set up again, if an overwhelming need occurs.

Water situation

Although some homes in Breckenridge and Stephens County may be suffering from frozen water pipes, some rural customers may be without water because of electric power problems at the treatment plant.

Stephens Regional Special Utility District reported Monday that the power outage caused a loss of pressure, requiring a Boil Water Notice for all SRSUD customers. Click here to read more about the Boil Water Notice.

The power outage also shut off the water service for many of the SRSUD customers.

Those with City of Breckenridge water service reportedly have water, unless their pipes are frozen.

Forecast

Weather forecasts include an overnight low of near 0 degrees tonight with Tuesday’s high temperature predicted to reach the mid-30s.

However, more freezing precipitation is possible on Wednesday, which is expected to have a high of 29 degrees. Thursday’s forecast calls for 29 degrees and cloudy skies.

By Friday, the sun is expected to warm the area up to 45 degrees, and by the following Wednesday, Feb. 24, the temperature could be in the lower 70s.

“The freezing weather is not going to be over until Friday,” Roach said. “It looks like we do have a little bit of a reprieve — tomorrow is supposed to be 34. It’s not enough, I don’t think, to make a huge difference in the road conditions, but maybe. And then, we have a chance for a little more snow on Wednesday. We’re not out of the woods till Friday. So, I would say, please continue to check on your friends and neighbors, your church members, your family members, especially those who are at risk and vulnerable, maybe they have underlying health conditions or are on oxygen. Make sure that they have their needs met.”

Much of Stephens County experienced blizzard-like conditions on Sunday as several inches of snow fell over the area. By Monday, many of the main roads had been cleared, but driving was still dangerous in several areas. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: When electric power was shut off to many Breckenridge homes, first responders, volunteers and others brought local residents to warming shelters that had been set up, including this one at The Lighthouse Church. By Monday afternoon, much of the power had been restored and many people were able to return to their homes. However, in the early evening, Breckenridge had lost power again. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Brewster Bolgiano)


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