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The death toll from the historic winter storm that swept across large swaths of the United States increased to 25, according to local media.
In addition to Texas, the most affected state, the brutal winter storm claimed lives in Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri, closed COVID-19 vaccination centers and hampered vaccine supplies.
Relief is not expected until the weekend, officials said. Adding to the 16 deaths reported Tuesday were four others who died in a house fire in Sugarland, Texas, where the power went out, police said.
Meanwhile, two men were reportedly found dead on Houston-area roads. The causes of the deaths are still unknown, but authorities said it was likely due to freezing temperatures. Also added to the list are three people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from combustion heaters.
In the Texas cities of Dallas and Austin, with temperatures at 21°F (6°C), snow and freezing rain caused traffic problems Wednesday, while severe weather warnings remained in effect from North Texas to West Virginia.
Shortly before noon some 3.4 million residents in Texas were still without power, 159,000 in Oregon and another 100,000 in Kentucky.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has forecast ice accumulations in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia, meaning the winter storm won’t end soon.
“In areas with these devastating ice accumulations residents can expect hazardous travel conditions, numerous power outages and extensive tree damage,” the NWS said.
In numerous parts of the country, where there have been power outages to prevent the electricity demand from exceeding the capacity of the grid, authorities have advised people to boil water before drinking it because of the possibility that there may not be sufficient capacity to process it into drinkable water.
Meanwhile, the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s office, which covers three counties, has requested a refrigerated truck to expand its body storage.
Judge Mark Henry, the county’s chief executive, could not immediately provide details on why the additional capacity was needed or on the number of weather-related deaths in his county of 340,000 people.