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People In Texas Suffer Through Coldest Temperatures In A Generation


Now let's move a couple hundred miles north. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen the coldest temperatures in a generation this week, with a record-setting 2 degrees below zero on Tuesday morning. This morning, we called up Michael Evans. He is the newly elected mayor of Mansfield, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas with a population around 80,000.

MICHAEL EVANS: We're known as Tree City, USA. Families come, and we look out for each other.

INSKEEP: Well, I guess probably the trees in the Tree City must be covered with some ice now, and people are needing to look after each other. Have there been a lot of power outages?

EVANS: Oh, my gosh, yes. There have been a lot of power outages. And, you know, unfortunately, it hasn't been necessarily because of the weather, so to speak. But we're a part of what's called ERCOT. And we have been caught in the middle of something here where there have been individuals who have not had electricity, power for about 3 1/2 days now. And you said it - it's subzero degrees.

INSKEEP: I guess there are rolling blackouts in a great part of Texas because of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas making emergency measures to keep the grid from crashing. Do you feel there's any rationality to who gets the power cut off and who doesn't?

EVANS: You know, that's a fine question. I think we're still trying to determine whether that is the case because, as you mentioned, rolling blackouts - the problem has been that they are not been - they've not been rolling, so to speak. I mean, when you've not had power for 3 1/2 days, I mean - and your neighbor maybe about three blocks from you, their power has not been turned off at all, you begin to question whether they are rolling at all. And of course, they have not been rolling because we were told in regard to expecting rollouts, you mean maybe 15 to 45 minutes at a time. And that surely has not been the case.

And yes, the original rationale was, as you stated, to lessen the load on the power grid. But, you know, that has not been the case. There are cases, though, where nursing facilities and nursing homes - that is, convalescent homes - assisted care units, they have actually lost power. So that original rationale has not been reality, so to speak.

INSKEEP: Mayor, what have people been able to do for their neighbors who've been without power for days?

EVANS: You know, I tell you, it's the Mansfield spirit. People have been pulling together. They've been inviting their neighbors into their homes. Our city and churches and other entities have opened warming centers. You see individuals, companies, restaurants just opening up their cabinets and pantries and bringing milk and cereal to warming centers and to their neighbors' homes. And it just says a lot about who we are as Mansfield residents and even as Texans, how we tend to pull together.

INSKEEP: I should say, it must be a scary step for some people in a pandemic to invite someone else into their home. But I guess people must just be taking that step.

EVANS: As a matter of fact, I was talking with a family on yesterday. And they just knew that these people - you know, the temperature in their home was 32 degrees, and it's life or death when you think about it. So what they did was they brought the people in, and they all had their masks and gloves on. And the individuals were in one side of the house while they were on the other side of the house. And, you know, that was survival. And that's what we do in times like these.

INSKEEP: Michael Evans is mayor of Mansfield, Texas.

Thank you, sir.

EVANS: Thank you very much, my friend.

INSKEEP: And good luck to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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