Frigid City: San Benito endures a harsh cold front


Below freezing
Icicles dangle from the rooftop of a San Benito resident’s home during this week’s rush of cold weather.
(Photo by Louie Diaz)


The City of San Benito experienced a severe rush of cold weather this past week, which caused much of the city to lose power.
On Friday, Feb.12 Governor Greg Abbott announced a statewide disaster declaration in response to severe winter weather. The proclamation authorized “the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster.”
According to a press release by the Office of Greg Abbott, to avoid large-scale blackouts, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) began implementing power outages to avoid large scale blackouts and damage to the power grid.
A few days later, Feb. 16, Governor Abbott declared the reform of ERCOT an emergency item in the next legislative session. On the same day, San Benito Mayor Ricardo Guerra issued a declaration of weather-related disaster. The declaration activated the City of San Benito Emergency Management Plan.
AEP made several social media posts concerning temporary power outages across their service territory. On Monday, Feb. 15, they announced that ERCOT directed AEP Texas to begin temporary power outages.
“We expect the outages to last anywhere from 30 mins to an hour, but maybe longer,” the post stated.
It was reported that about 10,700 AEP customers in the San Benito area were without power as of Feb. 15, according to a Facebook post by the City of San Benito.
“We understood that it [the power outages] were supposed to be sporadic. One neighborhood might have it today, but tomorrow somebody else might have it. That’s what we understood what was supposed to have been done,” Guerra said. “The city does not have control over it [the power outages]. We are only asking ERCOT to please share the electricity among the neighborhoods.”
During the power outages, San Benito did not host a shelter for those who had no electricity. According to Mayor Guerra, the San Benito Community Center might have been used as a shelter, but it does not contain any backup generators and did not have any power. He also mentioned that COVID-19 restrictions are still in effect, so that limits the amount of people that can fit in the center.
The San Benito CISD also cancelled all classes and events for the week of Feb. 15-19. Other services such as trash pick-up by Republic Services were suspended due to the weather. A second vaccination clinic held in Los Fresnos was also delayed due to weather conditions. According to a press release by the Office of Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr., two second dose vaccination clinics will be combined into one second dose mass vaccination clinic held on Sunday, Feb. 21. The clinic is only for individuals who were vaccinated on Jan. 21 and 22 at the clinics held at the Los Fresnos Fire Department.
Some citizens in San Benito began losing access to water. However, the city ensured that it was not due to any shut off of the water supply, the city stated in a Facebook post. The loss of water was likely due to broken pipes, water mains or irrigation lines, the post stated. The News did attempt to contact the city’s public works department for further details, but calls were not returned. As of the deadline Thursday, the city’s water supply was not under a boil order.

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