Beginning on Friday, January 28, 2022, winter Storm Landon caused widespread snowfall, sleet, and freezing rain that spread from the Rockies to the Plains, Midwest and parts of the Northeast. In addition to causing major travel issues with an estimated 4000 flights canceled, the storm has left thousands without power, especially in Northern Texas where power grids are less capable of withstanding severe winter weather conditions, as proved by the winter freeze that devastated parts of the state last year.
As of the morning of February 3, Texas recorded power outages to nearly 50,000 customers, with the Northern region of the state, specifically Collin, Hunt, Fannin, and Lamar counties, seeing the most significant impacts. Thousands of Texas residents still find themselves without power as temperatures remaining around freezing and inclement weather conditions persist.
While the widespread power outages place a significant burden on many communities throughout Texas, individuals who use electricity-dependent durable medical equipment (DMEs), including wheelchairs, ventilators, insulin pumps, and other equipment, are at an increased risk from long-lasting power outages. Direct Relief’s new service states that “Devices that require continuous power may not be available, nor backed-up to generators. Devices that require charging may become unavailable over time depending on the length of the outage.”
The CrisisReady research and analytics team has identified six counties in Texas with relatively high numbers of electricity-dependent DME users that have been significantly affected by power outages from winter Storm Landon. These include Lamar, Fannin, Eastland, Noland, Runnels, and Delta counties, which spread across the North-Central to Northeastern areas of the state. These counties were identified using data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s emPower program, which tracks durable medical equipment with power requirements for Medicare beneficiaries, and PowerOutages.us, which tracks outages at the county and city levels in real-time.
Direct Relief, who originally published the resulting data visualization, explained that “In Lamar County in particular, with a population of just under 50,000 people, almost 2% of the entire population uses power-dependent medical devices. People in these areas are at higher risk for health complications during outage events.”