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Aquí y Ahora - 21 de febrero, 2021

22 Feb 2021 – 12:00 AM EST

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of "aqui y ahora." a powerful winter storm broughtextreme temperatures and has caused dozens of deaths and anunprecedented crisis in the state of texas.>> when i came home, everything was flooded.>> there were power and water outages that affected millions,affecting their routines and putting their lives at risk.>> my house was destroyed. >> basic survival items havebeen difficult to find. low temperatures are affectingthousands of immigrants who live in tents or who have come toshelters along the border. >> so what you think then is, ami going to die? >> many people are askingthemselves how did this emergency reach such criticallevels? what failed in the power grid?>> they do not want to invest in modernizing infrastructure.>> crisis in texas. >> it is like a chain ofemergencies, when million of residents in texas are gettingback power. they have to face a lack ofdrinking water, and food. i am teresa rodriguez.hello. >> welcome to "aqui y ahora."what many people are wondering is if the other parts of thecome -- country are able to withstand a similar crisis.our reporter is in dallas and spoke with homeless are you? what did these families tellyou? >> here in dallas, temperaturescontinue to remain cold but things are improving.but the problems have not ended. new shelters are being openedbut not everyone can go to them. as was the case with somefamilies i spoke with. they lived the last few dayswith uncertainty and fear. everything fell down >>.>> what had been her home for seven years now looks like abattle site. >> this is the hallway to mymothers room. you can see the roof caved in.>> this carpet is completely drenched.>> this was a swimming pool practically.>> everything is drenched. the ceiling, the bathrooms,everything. water pipes burst because of thecold weather. >> everything was was like there was a fountain coming from father was wearing sandals, trying to get the water out.>> a friend of mine came and helped.>> for me, it was difficult to see that because he is diabetic,the water is cold. >> she is divorced.she lives were there two daughters -- with her twodaughters, her father, and mother who has terminal livercancer. for this family, the flood, thelack of power, and the subfreezing temperatures were acombination that brought tragedy.>> what did your mother say? >> not to worry, that thingswould be ok. i would ask her if she was coldand she said she was warm. >> the gold was affectingmillions of residents throughout the state who had also had theirpower cut off. >> how many days have you nothad power? >> since midday monday.and we still do not have power. yes, things have been difficult.we dont have heating. we cannot heat up water.cannot bathe. >> jose lives in another part ofdallas as a cook. he says he was desperate tryingto get warmth for his wife and children.>> it was about 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. on monday night andtemperatures were three or four degrees below zero.the cold was too much for us. we had a lot of blankets on butyou could still not warm up. you felt pain in your bones, youfelt freezing, you felt nothing could warm you up.>> the extreme temperature surprised residents as well asthe infrastructure system which collapsed under heavy demand.this is when generators and turbines froze.several roaming blackouts had to be scheduled, leaving manypeople in texas without the resources to warm up.they build a fire. >> we heat up water just to washour hands. wash our mouths.because water coming from the pipes is very cold.>> its an idea that carries risk.>> something could happen. somebody could burn themselves.we may even burn the house. >> in a dangerous situation, shecould not get her mother out of the flooded house.>> i called 911 and an ambulance could not come help my mother.>> in the middle of the cold the took extreme measures.they were debating between risking their lives and losingthem. >> we put candles around mymothers bed to heat her up because we did not have power.>> there was danger of a fire. >> we had an oxygen tank.that is dangerous. somebody came to install theoxygen tank told us not to have open flames near the oxygentank, because it could explode. >> then why did you do it?>> you didnt have an option? >> we did not have anotheroption to keep my mother warm. >> finally they were able toevacuate their sick mother. >> my family and i had to find away to get my mother out of the father, because we dont have a sit -- a house anymore.>> their mothers now in a hotel, but not for long because thefamily has limited resources. it has been over a week sinceshe has been able to work. >> my daughter works at a placethat makes juice and stuff like that.she and i are the ones who bring the most money to the house topay for maintenance. >> what are you going to do now?>> that is the big question. i dont know.some friends have offered me to stay at their house with mymother, but obviously this will take a while to fix.the expenses, because of the pandemic, have affected mysavings. >> he also has had his savingsaffected. >> we cannot work.we dont have power, we cant go anywhere.>> what worries you most? >> i am worried about mydaughters health above all, because my daughter doesnt haveany government aid. if she gets sick, we have to payfor her expenses. >> jose and ophelias daughteris 17 years old. she is shy, but has facedadversity. >> she never complained aboutthe cold, but you could tell she was freezing.her mother would get up and cover her from head to toebecause she would uncover herself.he would touch her hair and it felt like ice.this has been a very difficult situation.maybe i look calm on the outside, but inside it has beena very difficult situation for me and my family.ive felt a lot of conflicting emotions.i want to be strong, but sometimes it is difficult tofeel calm. >> he hopes do not have moredays of darkness, and hopes that power will be restored soon.>> they are not telling us any information.we are incommunicado. >> the family has faith infinding a new home and hopes that the employment situationimproves. while dulce wants her mother tospend her last days at peace. what do you do to keep fighting?>> i get up in the morning, i look at the sunlight, and i knowthat god does not leave us. god does not abandon us.>> carolina, these are examples of the terrible situation beingexperienced by texans. this week we found out that manyactivities had to be suspended because of the weather.including vaccination programs. have authorities said when thevaccination programs against coronavirus will restart?>> thats right. as you said, the authorities aretalking about a weeks delay, at least.anthony fauci, director of the national institute of health anddiseases says it is about recovering lost that the weather is improving.its expected that next week, 600,000 doses will arrive intexas. of course priority will be givento those who already had appointment for their seconddose of vaccine. and lets remember that this isa problem that affected transportation, but alsofreezing, because places that did not have power could notstore the vaccines. >> thank you so much.its a tragedy they are experiencing there.we will return with this special edition.>> when we return, accidents on the highway and difficulties indoing the most simple tasks. >> first of the pandemic, nowthis. we have to find a way ofsurviving this. >> share your messages o>> in less than 10 days, three puller -- three polar vortexescame to texas bringing tragedy and desolation to a state withalmost 30 million inhabitants. juan carlos agway atells usabout what became a giant tragedy.>> from sunny days in texas, they quickly went to cloudy daysand threatening weather. the crisis was barely beginning.>> this is affecting texas, arkansas.this is the first one. >> hours later, in the morningof thursday, the preview of the disaster on interstate 35 caused a 35-car pileup.>> hear how all the cars crashed.>> it was terrifying. six people died in an accidentthat extended for over one mile. three winter storms would comein less than one week, effecting two thirds of the country.the lone star state became the epicenter.>> meanwhile, a third system arrives sunday from the westcoast. it will be here monday andtuesday. there will be snow surely onmonday and tuesday of next week. >> the sadden effect on theborder between juarez and el paso.firewood ran out. >> you cannot even find is at 80. it used to be three for $ they are overcharging. >> when the first snowflakescame and intense cold, very few people were prepared for thatweather. >> first the pandemic, now this.these are things that god sends us and we have to find a way tosurvive all this. >> little by little, storesbegan to close. and desperation turned into longlines of cars with people looking for help.>> without work, we have not been working because the weatherhas been terrible here in the dallas-fort worth metropolitanarea. >> fighting against cold weather, which was supposed to only last a few days, extended for afew -- a full week. >> very rarely do you see theentire country covered with winter storm warnings.from texas all the way to the tri-state area, they are allfacing this system. >> the electrical gridcollapsed. leaving millions exposed tofreezing temperatures both in large cities and in small townsin texas. temperatures were below freezingand beat records, forcing most people to stay-at-home.>> we are afraid of going out, of going to work, of accidentsthat may happen. >> a recording from the airallows us to see what happened. austin come a corpus christi,houston were among the most affected.>> it has affected the business, the family.we dont have any water. >> another problem, the lack ofwater. with the power outages, watertreatment plants were stopped and there was not enough energyto boil the vital liquid. >> it is very important to cookand to drink, especially for children.many have to wait many hours to get bottled water donations,which in many cases is not enough but it is still betterthan nothing. >> there are many of us who arein need. thank god we are getting help.>> on monday, february 15, things did not seem to begetting better. since she could not escape thehold -- cold, he found alternatives with his wife andsmall children. >> a pillow with blankets werewell covered because of the situation.>> thousands of flights had to be canceled because airportswere covered in ice. >> television channels like thisone have been the best allies for people who were is the best way to know what to expect the following wednesday, the reality was overwhelming.two polar vortexes had affected texas, wreaking havoc in thepoorest slums. >> this is how we areexperiencing the situation right now.>> tania garcia lives in harris county.the water pipes in her house burst after freezing.>> burst pipes, a destroyed home, no furniture.>> now, she has nowhere to go. let alone in the currentcircumstances that the state is facing.for alejandro, burst pipes is something that is common thesedays in texas. >> were getting between 30 and40 calls per hour, more or less. >> that is why he recommendscovering external pipes, or leaving a trickle going to avoiddamage. >> this regulates water pressureso that there isnt quite so much, and that the pipes dontburst. or so that none of the jointsare in danger. >> if she had known this beforethe storm, perhaps he would have been able to prevent theflooding of his home. >> the house is a completedisaster. and while we are trying to dowhat we can, in the meantime. >> staying with relatives, theweek continued, leaving chaos, desolation, and pain throughouttexas. meanwhile, good news was takinglonger to arrive. >> the good thing is thatconditions will improve this week.according to authorities, the number of deaths has surpassed60 people. there could be as much as $18billion billion in damage according to insurancecompanies. this is similar to thedestruction after the 2017 hurricane harvey.we will return with more of this special edition of "aqui y ahora." >> when we return, going to thegrocery store became an odyssey this week in texas.>> it is a very difficult special editionsituation.>> the vast majority of residents in texas haveelectricity again, but they may not have some basic supplies.the recent winter storm devastated supply chains andaffected the agricultural banks and grocery stores are empty.we say hello now to our correspondent pedro from austin,texas. >> hello, good evening.although the situation here seems back to normal, that isnot the case everywhere in the state.there are airplanes taking supplies to different parts ofthe state but for many people who are waiting for food, thesemeasures are not enough. they were able to reopen theirmexican restaurant in georgetown, texas north ofaustin after the devastating winter for -- storm thataffected the area. for them, the last few days havebeen a chain of nightmares. >> how do you feel now knowingthat you were able to reopen your business?>> the truth is the last few days were very traumatic, seeingthe situation that texas was in, or i guess continues to be in.seeing that many people were left without power, withoutwater. many businesses were closed,like ours, which was closed for all these is truly sad and traumatizing.>> the family restaurant, which employs 18 people, was closedfor four days. they tell us before reopening,they had to throw away food that was spoiled because of the lackof electricity. >> for small businesses such asours, we felt that we felt it quite a bit because it is toomuch food that had to be thrown away.>> the lack of basic supplies because of the closed highwayshas limited their ability to buy fresh food to replace what theyhad to throw away. >> everything is practicallyempty. right now i have to go to southaustin to pick up some tortillas.and a few other things that we need hoping to find something, to have the product, so that i cansell it. otherwise we will have to closebecause we wont have anything to sell.>> the reality is forcing millions of texans to make lines-- to stand in lines outside of grocery stores, which now havelimited hours. >> we are not used to this intexas. now we have to withstand thisand ask god that we get through this quickly.>> you never imagined this? >> no.i have lived here for eight years and theres never beenanything like this. nothing like this had everhappened before. >> despite the lack of food andbasic supplies, she wants to keep the doors to the restaurantopen. >> those of us who have somesupplies are trying to give the best service to our clients.its impossible because we are missing a lot.>> juan is a regular customer of the restaurant.he said as soon as he found out the restaurant had reopened, hetold his coworkers. >> i was talking to him and isaid it is open. a week without having to comehere and eat here. >> they are trying to return tonormalcy, to their routines. >> what was the failure?>> well, these temperatures. the cold temperatures happenevery year. people get prepared for that.but we were not ready for that. it caught us without food,without generators, without gasoline.we were asleep at the switch. >> they expect to provide goodservice for their customers, but also wants to watch out for hisemployees. >> if our income is reduced,then our employees also end up without a job.>> for many people, being back at work is them a glimmer ofhope. >> the truth is i feel very goodbecause we were able to return to work.we are able to be back at our jobs and continue earning moneyfor our expenses. >> what do you think?will we see more winters like this year?>> i think so. this is a sign that mothernature is sending us. i think that, yes, we willprobably see something similar. maybe not as strong or maybeeven worse. the climate is changingdramatically. we are seeing that.we see its also in the rainfall we have had the last few years.>> they say that they do not give up in their desire to keeptheir restaurant open. and thanks to their loyalcustomers and the quality of their food, they hope tocontinue. >> little by little, people indifferent sectors are resuming their normal activities, butthere are people who are getting electrical bills that areexorbitantly high. what is the government doingabout this? >> the governor of texasannounced this afternoon two, a moratorium on payments. no ones electricity can bedisconnected. looks like he is also meetingwith members of the state legislature from both partiesthat -- to work on a bill to prevent price gouging.and a moratorium has been established to preventelectrical companies from sending out more bills.>> i think that is a very good decision.thank you to pedro, live from austin.we will be back after a short break of the more of thisspecial edition. >> after a break, difficultdecisions that thousands of migrants had to make.continue, stay, or return? >> i said you have got to bestrong, because we will soon leave this place.>> if people are -- if people with a roof were affected,imagine the people living in tents on the border.our correspondent told us how hundreds of people have hope.>> i could not cross but i did not want to go back.>> when she migrated from el salvador, she thought the mostdifficult thing was weaving behind loved ones -- leavingbehind loved ones. but fate had something else instore for her. >> these are the most difficultdays we have experienced as human beings.we come from places where temperatures are warm.>> but this is her home for now, in the migrant camp.she explains the suffering she has it.stte. >> i have seen -- she hasexperienced. >> i have seen men crying.i saw someone shivering and crying.i told them you have to be strong.we will be out of here soon. >> many people thought theywould die. the cold breached their bonesand the night seemed eternal. it was impossible to sleepbecause they could not stop shivering.>> there was horrible -- a womans legs got cramped andthey would not respond. i asked what happened and shesaid i cannot take it anymore here.>> the winter storm brought strong winds and some tensecollapsed. others tore and let in freezingrain. >> we were swet the whole night.there was nothing drive. the tent ripped and we were wetall night. >> children suffer the most inany society. released this video of a childcrying because of the cold. in this other image we see adesperate mother trying to warm her childs feet, placingbottles of warm water at the childs feet.they have lived in this tent for months.>> he was crying because of the cold.they said they did not want to be here anymore.they wanted to leave this place. they just dont want to be hereanymore. >> these images show thedesperation of the frozen tents. dr. elizondo, an immigrantdoctor from cuba, has been very worried about his patients.conditions he and his wife are also experiencing.>> the cold goes in through the tent.>> what he saw affected him so much that sandra begandocumenting the situation with her cell phone.>> some tarps froze and broke. water is frozen.>> sandra, what motivated you to record what was happening?>> i was motivated by seeing the entire camp in that chaos.i thought if i freeze or something happens, at least mylife will have had some meaning. it was freezing.i was shivering. i could not move my fingers.they were almost frozen. but i thought i have to keepdoing this. if i die, then thats fin ife iam able to save other peoples lives.>> this is the water in which we bathe.the water gallons were frozen solid.yesterday was worse because i could not get any water to takemedicine. >> these bottles of water arecompletely frozen. they are both about to burst.>> in one of the worst nights, migrants got together to pray.>> people were on their knees praying god.that is all we could do. pray.>> the camp is on the side of the rio grande, just a few feetfrom the international bridge in texas.being close to water made it colder than the rest of thecity. >> the worst thing was waking upand feeling her blankets wet and what you are thinking is, am i going to die here?>> the bond fires were another option to warm up, but it wasstill dangerous. >> we went looking for firewood.firewood is crucial at this moment.>> is it the best way to warm up?>> it is the only way to right, that is how we survived. >> carlos sister says shedeveloped respiratory problems as a result of what they haveexperienced. >> i have difficulty breathing.theres too much smoke that we had to withstand, becauseotherwise i would have frozen. either i freeze to death, or ichoke on the smoke. its a terrible situation.never in my life did i imagine something like this would happento me. >> this is something i amseeing. >> the cold wave has been anightmare for everyone in this camp.but more than physical wounds, they have emotional ones.>> we hope that god will heal these wounds.this is the cruelest thing, being sent to this place and inthese conditions. we have food, we have clothing.whats bad is the conditions we have lived in, because thesetents are not prepared for this kind of weather.>> when the sun came out, some people went out to feel somewarmth after days of extreme temperatures.>> these burns are from the cold.we werent able to cover his face.we covered him as best we could. >> hope returned with thesunlight to some of these immigrants.they hope their fate will be in better hands now that there arechanges to the immigration program.>> many people say that god is protecting them, and i thinkthat must be the case, because truly, they have experiencedvery difficult test, and they have done so with practicallylittle damage. >> sandra hopes to find herfuture after surviving this. >> god heals everything.i have faith that we will all survive to start a new life.we will work hard to get ahead. >> thats need to have faith and hope. this weekend, dozens of migrantswho were in those camps were the first to be admitted to theunited states under the mpp program.that number will increase over the next few weeks according togovernment officials. we will return with more from"aqui y ahora." ♪>> when we return, the lessons learned after the power outagesin texas. might they occur in anotherstate? >> at a local level there willbe an investigation into what happened here.>> after the giant winter storm in the last few days, theelectrical system and electrical grid in texas collapsed.there were also problems in mississippi and other areas.other states are asking if something similar might happenduring extreme weather emergency.tifani roberts tells us more. >> in the last few days, thevibrant city of houston seems like a ghost town.many of the more than 7 million inhabitants of the most -- ofthe metropolitan area spent several nights without power,experiencing freezing cold, and snow storms that seemed not toend. she lives in a houston suburb.despite not having power, they also had no water.low temperatures made water pipes burst.thankfully, she said they had taken preventative measures.>> we had stored some water before the power went out, so wehave water to do the most basic functions of the house.>> this is not the first time they have experienced blackouts.four years ago they experienced something similar after thedevastating hurricane harvey. she says what is happening nowis not bad luck. >> it bothers me because climatechange, its not a topic that is debatable.its not about believing or not is not a matter of faith. this is something that iscurrently happening that we can see all around us.>> she says that the problem, the power problems in texas aretied to politics. >> generally the authoritieshere in texas are very much opposed to federal regulation.>> she works for climate power 2020, a nonprofit organizationthat promotes legislation to mitigate the consequences ofclimate change. to understand what happened intexas, we need to see how energy is distributed.the united states and some canadian provinces have joinedforces to create a network in four different regions.the system is designed in such a way that if one state or regionhas problems, in order to prevent blackouts, otherinterconnections can send electricity.its a fluid system. not perfect, but that is a planb in the amount of an emergency. the federal government regulatesand supervises those operations. >> if we have the capacity, ifwe are part of a broader grid that connects the united statesto the east or the west, you are able to move energy from onestate to the other. that is not the case in texas.>> to avoid federal interference, texas has had anindependent grid. they produce, buy, and consumetheir own energy. >> when this happened, theyspoke very much about being independent from federalrelation. the state -- federal regulation.the state would have its own regulation, which is what hasbeen debated at the local level. >> providing energy is not aneasy matter. electricity cannot be stored tobe used during an emergency. so networks usually have abackup to confront a crisis. but texas does not have thatoption. because of their own decisions,texas, an oil state, has many natural gas deposits, so most ofits energy is produced by natural gas and coal.second-place is nuclear power. and in last place, solar andwind power. companies that provide energyare private, and customers can choose the company they prefer.that is why energy prices are relatively low.that means that companies do not have incentives to make largeinvestments to improve their equipment.>> if the state were willing to invest in what is necessary toimprove the power grid, wed be telling a very different storyhere in texas. >> companies say the investmentcosts are very expensive, and at these -- that these kinds ofemergencies happen every 30 years.>> well, 3.4 million people say even if it is only 30 years, itstill happens. and when it happens, it is verybad. >> this judge this morningquestioned their decision to ration energy.>> why did they have energy plants that did not survive thecold, when there are plenty of power plants in colder areasthroughout the world? these questions need to beanswered for my residents here as well as the rest of texas.>> they do not want to invest in modernizing is necessary so these power plants can be efficient, and sothat they are able to respond to extreme weather conditions.>> greg abbott is the governor of texas.hes asked for an investigation. >> at a local level, they willinvestigate what happened. theres a lack of transparencywith ercots in the way it operates on a local level.>> millions of people were affected.among them, ted cruz, the senator who, during theemergency, left the state to go on vacation.a scandal erupted when a photo of him getting on a plane becameviral. in a press release, therepublican lawmaker said that, as a good father, hisresponsibility was to accompany his daughters who going tocancun, mexico. >> its certainly warmer wherehe is going. said the mayor of houston,ironically. someone published a picture ofthe senators empty house with the senators dog snowflake atthe door. a few hours later, the senatorchanged plans and returned to texas, saying that traveling tothe riviera during a crisis in the state was a mistake.the question is whether we will see more of these kind ofweather conditions and whether other states will experiencethe same kind of conditions. antoinette believes itsimportant to leave politics aside, and to pay attention tothe environment and climate change, which are responsiblefor these catastrophes. >> leaders who first dontbelieve in climate change, dont believe in extreme weather, andare not willing to make necessary investments, necessarychanges to infrastructure at a local level.>> and experts believe that this weeks crisis is just a warningof what is yet to come. before the pandemic, one out ofevery three homes in the united states had power -- had problemspaying their power bills, according to the energyinformation administration. >> and with last years crisis,many americans were not able to pay at least one of their powerbills. and according to studies fromthe university of indiana, those most affected by the shutdownorders were latinos and african-americans.>> thats a sad reality. that brings us to the end ofthis special edition. >> see you soon.thank you for your preference. ♪

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