The authorities said that Ms. Dearing, who suffered from dementia, had wandered into her backyard and collapsed as temperatures dipped to freezing levels. The paramedics who found her told county officials that it appeared that she had broken a leg and was not able to get back inside. Her body was found six feet from a rear door, officials said.
“We don’t know if she cried for help or if anyone heard her,” said Mike McAuliffe, a justice of the peace in Taylor County.
The storm’s devastation, Mr. Dearing said, could not be understated, adding, “I’m surprised the number isn’t bigger considering how bad it was.”
The storm disrupted the power infrastructure, which, officials said, was unprepared for such intense winter conditions. State officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, blamed the failures on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that controls electricity for some 26 million residents. High-level officials at the council, known as ERCOT, and the state’s utility regulator have resigned.
Officials have called for an overhaul of the state’s power system. Critics said widespread, lasting power outages underscored the flaws in Texas’ singular approach to electricity as it opted to have a power grid of its own and eschew regulation.
“We’re horrified that this can happen in modern-day society,” Celeste Peterson, campaign director in Houston for the Texas Organizing Project, a nonprofit that advocates for Black and Latino communities, said of the state’s new death toll.
“Unfortunately, Texas paid the price for some really poor planning and disregard, frankly, for human life,” she said.
- ^ the flaws in Texas’ singular approach to electricity (www.nytimes.com)
Edgar Sandoval, Rick Rojas and Allyson Waller