Winter Storm Update
Afternoon of Friday, Feb. 19, 2021
Water Distribution Event
As of 4 p.m. we have distributed nearly 400 cases of drinking water and 500 gallons of non-potable water.
Hello, neighbors. As your Mayor, I am responsible for ensuring the needs of our community are met. Like you, I am disappointed that our water service was so greatly effected by the loss of power combined with a historic number of days in sub-freezing temperatures. Our water service could have withstood either of these events alone, but not combined. Today we have 24" pipes, climbing as high as 30 feet, blocked by ice and covered in ice.
Thawing temperatures are due on Saturday, but we are not sitting back and waiting for the thaw. We are working with engineers, and tapping County and City of Tyler resources to try to recover water service as quickly as possible. We are estimating water service to be restored on Monday but efforts continue to accelerate the process. We are working with State and local organizations and businesses to gather resources for our volunteers to distribute to those in need.
As always, I am humbled and inspired by how our community responds when called to action. Yesterday we had volunteers running drinking water and non-drinkable water out to those in need. We had volunteers helping people who think they might have compromised pipes shut off their water mains so that they can make sure they are home and awake when their water is restored. And we had volunteers helping people shut off their hot water heaters to prevent a possible element burn-out. Today, volunteers picked up water, manned distribution events, and coordinated deliveries to those that could not venture out. These volunteers are people with problems of their own, yet willing to serve those with greater needs.
These efforts will continue until after water service is restored and mains that were turned off by volunteers are turned back on. For now, we will do all that we can to meet the needs of those we serve. Distribution events have been planned and are underway. We are grateful for our partnerships with Representative Matt Schaefer, Smith County, Smith County Sherriff's Office, Brookshire Grocery Company, Green Acres Baptist Church, East Texas Food Bank, Atwood's and many others.
Thank you for your patience, resilience, and inspirational acts of kindness towards one another. I look forward working with you and for you to get our community on the other side of this event.
Mayor of Whitehouse, TX
Report Your Disaster Impacts
If you have/had frozen pipe water damage to your home, please fill out this survey to explain your damages. TDEM will share your information with FEMA and FEMA Region 6 offices. Please report your damages to https://arcg.is/uOrOb.
Almost all homes in the City have power.
From Oncor (2/19/2021)
As of 6:00 a.m., there are approximately 27,000 remaining outages from the cold weather and lack of generation impacts experienced earlier this week. At the peak of the ERCOT directed load shed, more than 1.3 million customers were left without power. We expect that a substantial amount of those remaining customers will be restored by this evening.
Personnel also continued working through the night to restore power to more than 19,000 customers impacted by an ice storm that blanketed Palestine, Lufkin and Nacogdoches late Wednesday and Thursday, with 72,000 outages remaining. We expect the majority of storm restoration to be complete in these areas by early Sunday.
If you are still without power, please report your outage by calling 888-313-4747, texting OUT to 66267, using the MyOncor app or visiting Oncor.com. Oncor greatly appreciates the continued patience of our customers and recognizes the hardships faced throughout this statewide power emergency.
The low temperatures, hazardous road conditions and residual impacts of controlled outages on our equipment has complicated the restoration process, though personnel continue to work 24/7. In some areas, damage has been identified within equipment such as transformers as a result of having to quickly power back up massive amounts of energy after the controlled outages concluded. While this damage may temporarily prevent the equipment from powering up every connected customer in the area, personnel will aim to restore as many as possible to provide relief while replacement equipment is being delivered and installed.
Because generation supply remained stable, ERCOT did not issue any controlled or rotating outages on Thursday – the first full day without a load-shed event since early Monday. Should generation conditions change, Oncor will continue to follow the direction of ERCOT.
Roads have become slushy during the day with the warmer temperatures but overnight temperatures will drop to around 18° and cause refreezing.
If road conditions permit regular scheduled trash pickup for residential and commercial customers will resume Monday, 2/22/21 on your scheduled day. Trash collection will focus on household trash pickup only at this time. Curbside recycling will resume Wednesday, 3/3/21 and bulk item pickup will resume Thursday, 3/4/21.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I turn off my water meter?
If you are concerned about leaks and busted pipes once water is restored, you can turn off your water service. Many homes have a green circular lid next to the foundation that contains the ball valve which will turn off the water to the house. If you are unable to locate this disconnect you can turn off your service at your water meter. To turn the water off at the meter you will need a meter key or channel lock pliers. Carefully open the meter lid leaving the large wire intact. Locate the toggle valve or key and turn it until the eyelets (holes) line up. (Example photo of valve below)
Will my water be disconnected for non-payment?
Once the water is restored the City does not plan to conduct non-payment water disconnects for those who have not already paid their water, sewer, and garbage bill. Please make this payment along with the March bill due by 4:30pm on 3/10/2021.
Why are we out of water?The City of Whitehouse has two main water sources. Wells, and a secondary connection to the City of Tyler. Normally, the City uses six wells to supply the City with water. When power outages began, all City wells were without power. We had generators suppling power to the wells, but they are intended to run critical infrastructure and are not equipped to keep pipes and equipment from freezing in subzero temperatures. We managed to keep two wells operational but it was not enough to supply the system and running these two wells without relief would result in long-term outages. Even with our secondary supply with the City of Tyler, our supply and fill lines connecting to their system are frozen as well.
What is it going to take to get water restored?
Warmer temperatures. We hope to see a warming trend over the next several days that will help thaw our frozen pipes and allow our systems to get back online.
Why weren't we better prepared?
We have never dealt with a storm system like this. We always try to account for likely possibilities when designing critical infrastructure. We plan for power outages, tornadoes, flooding, and other disasters. Much like many other cities and utilities, we weren't designed to operate in these temperatures.
Why do other water providers still have water?
Every water system is different. Some water systems are wholly dependent upon other water suppliers, some use a combination of either other suppliers, ground water (wells), or surface water (lakes). Every plant and distribution system includes a myriad of factors that are specific to that location and that system's needs.
Systems have also experienced outages for different reasons. Some have experienced large-scale main breaks, some have had significant increases in demand as people fill bathtubs, drip faucets and experience leaks at their homes. Each of these issues requires a different resolution. Some systems need people to conserve, others need conservation and main break fixes, while others, like us, need warmer weather.
What is the City going to do moving forward?
Over the next few weeks we will do a review of our systems to determine how we can better serve our community. This will include more than just our infrastructure systems. We will look across all of our operations to determine where improvements can be made.