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[00:00:07]

Hello and welcome to the five thirty eight politics podcast, I'm Garland, Texas is in a dire situation. Millions of people have been without power or heat and in some cases water in freezing cold temperatures for days because of severe blackouts. At the time of recording, half a million Texans still don't have power, according to reporting from The New York Times. At least thirty eight people have died this week in the United States as a result of storm related incidents, and it's likely that number will continue to rise.

[00:00:37]

Officials in Galveston, Texas, requested a refrigerated truck to collect bodies as they checked in on members of the community. People are angry and politicians are pointing fingers. So we're going to spend today's podcast getting a sense of what is happening in Texas and where responsibility lies. We're also going to talk about politics. It seems like the country has faced crisis after crisis. Remember, we're still in the middle of a pandemic that has taken nearly half a million lives.

[00:01:05]

So how does our political system react to crises that may be natural disasters, but also involve human decision making? Here with me to discuss is our politics editor, Sarah Ferguson, who is in Houston and faced power outages this week. Hello, Sarah Hegan, glad to be able to have you with us. Also here with us is Maggie Curth, senior science writer here at five thirty eight. She's also written a lot about this. Her book is called Before the Lights Go Out.

[00:01:33]

It's on the energy infrastructure in America. Hello, Maggie. Hi. And also here with us is Daniel Cohan, a professor at Rice University in Houston who studies climate and energy. Welcome, Daniel.

[00:01:45]

Thanks, Galen. It was in better circumstances. Likewise. So first, I want to start with you, Sarah and Daniel. You're both in Houston. First of all, are you OK? And can you tell me a little bit about the situation that you and your community are facing? We fortunately now have power. It was restored early on Wednesday. We were without power for most of Monday and all of Tuesday tried to find a tow. No luck.

[00:02:10]

And when we realized it's going to be a second night sleeping in the cold, luckily, one of my coworkers families that made us who love that Cady took us in, they hadn't lost power. One reason we think that is because the grid system here in Texas, they live really close to a hospital and hospitals naturally were prioritized here in terms of the blackouts. What was so frustrating and at times frightening about this is the timeline has been so unclear and the messaging and lack of assistance from government officials was just abysmal because it was never a matter of hours for when we'd have power.

[00:02:48]

But days. And as you said at the top, a lot of Texans still don't have power.

[00:02:53]

Yeah, for us, a bit of survivor guilt that we've kept two out of the three that we've kept power and heat through this really don't understand how these rolling blackouts are working that summer or without power for days. And some are keeping it. So it's just a matter of very low water pressure that we have to boil if we want to drink it, since the water systems are really struggling right now.

[00:03:16]

Can you give us a sense of how the community is doing? I mean, can you tell from going outside or talking to neighbors the kinds of situations that people are facing? Because I think it's been hard. There's not a lot of travel. I haven't seen a ton of news cameras, et cetera, on the ground there. Of course, our local reporters who are giving us a sense of everything, but people are in their homes. So it's hard to get a sense of the full scale of what's happening.

[00:03:40]

I think we're in a crisis now that I can't think of anything outside of Harvey that is hit so many people at once because it's hitting our power, our heat and our water for, you know, different people experiencing one, two or all three of those hits at a time. And it's a terrible health crisis, too. So it's gotten a bit of an insight into that because my wife is in the emergency room pediatrician and she's never seen anything like it with just so many carbon monoxide poisoning cases coming in, in some cases with both children and parents needing to be treated because so many people are just desperately trying to find a way to stay warm.

[00:04:17]

This is both the coldest that we've been for such an extended stretch for decades. And for that to come at the same time that people don't have heat, it's just so devastating.

[00:04:28]

Doesn't help that we're in the middle of a pandemic either, which I think is one reason why. Galen, you're not seeing more on the ground reporting about this yesterday. We definitely were driving for heat at one point, as were many other Texans, even though we weren't really supposed to be on the roads. There were gas shortages, gas stations putting caps on the pumps because they had run out hotels that had power, then lost power. It's just been a lot of chaos on the ground.

[00:04:54]

I do think, at least for Houston, most of the power is back on at this point. As Dan said, there's. A huge water problem at this point, but it does seem as if the worst of it, at least within Houston, is starting to shift, which is a positive at this point.

[00:05:09]

Yesterday was a big day for a lot of power coming back online, and they were still only able to reconnect neighborhood by neighborhood back onto the grid.

[00:05:18]

So you guys are coming back online now, or is it still in a state where it's coming back on and going back off at this point?

[00:05:24]

We've had power for more than twenty four hours. We weren't sure initially if that was part of the rolling outages. I don't think it is at this point center point, which is like our distributor here in Houston estimates like 40 thousand or without power still. And that's obviously still high. But it had been like over two million a day ago. So I do think they've made significant progress getting people back on.

[00:05:48]

So, Daniel, just to dove right in to what is going on here, what is responsible? I know it's a little complicated, but from where you sit and your expertize, why have these blackouts happened?

[00:06:00]

So what we really have is an energy systems crisis that goes beyond an electric power crisis alone. And I think it's it's really hard for people to recognize that as we're living through the crisis, because those of us who heat our homes with natural gas still see the gas coming to our homes just fine. Yet this is primarily a crisis at the interface of our of our gas and electricity systems that are so mutually vulnerable to each other that we have a lot of gas power plants that are ready to run and they can't get the consistent gas supply that they need.

[00:06:38]

And so really the big unexpected feature of the storm was just how badly gas electricity failed us because rightfully gaskets prioritized to heat homes and hospitals and in churches. And so power plants go back further in the line. And so when the whole system seizes up, because so many of the operators going all the way from the drillers to the pipelines to the compressors aren't able to handle this very cold weather and the blackouts knock them out as well. We have the systemic failure that our biggest source of electricity goes down and there are other components as well.

[00:07:13]

You know, we have a diversified mix. Every single one of our sources of electricity declined at the same time as our demand surged to record peaks. But the vast majority, the overwhelming cause of this is coming from the natural gas component. If that hadn't happened, we would have a tiny fraction of the blackouts that we have.

[00:07:32]

Maggie, should this have been predictable, given your research on all of this? Are these just vulnerabilities that exist in the system and that we should have known that this could happen?

[00:07:43]

Yes and no. I mean, as Daniel said, we're talking about a cold front that is once in multiple decades kind of situation in Texas. So I think that some of this comes down to like to what extent and for what does your system need to be hardened to? It's kind of the same sort of level of Minnesota's electrical system is probably not hardened to the kinds of storm systems that you can get in Texas when hurricanes come through.

[00:08:15]

Should we be? Texas is not hardened to the kind of wet winter weather that Minnesota gets. Should it be those are legitimate questions that people kind of have to ask about risk assessment and about infrastructure development. But on the other hand, Texas has had warnings that it can get cold and that it wasn't necessarily prepared for that and its electrical systems. So back in 2011, there was a winter storm that moved through that caused some similar problems. And the ground controllers were told that you need to make certain kinds of upgrades.

[00:08:50]

You need to have certain kinds of protections built into the system or it's going to fail again the next time this happens. And they didn't and it did.

[00:09:00]

And in that freeze, we had natural gas and wind both go down severely in their output. Those are our two biggest sources of electricity in the state. And now we got hit by a much more intense arctic blast. And and neither of those providers were ready.

[00:09:15]

Right. One thing, Dan and Maggie, I'd be curious for your perspective that I don't understand as a consumer here in Texas is I realize our grid is independent, but why there isn't a reserve of power. That's what blew my mind, is that at one point The Chronicle was reporting that five percent of the outages were directly linked to damage by the storm because the storm itself wasn't that severe. It was more so demand was so high and we didn't have any energy reserves.

[00:09:43]

And that just seems to me like a huge flaw in the system.

[00:09:47]

Well, it's largely the nature of electricity systems is the electricity systems have to maintain a balance every second of every day of every year. And the amount of storage that we have on the grid is growing fast. But from an absolutely miniscule base is that we think if there weren't so many of us blocked out this week, the demand would have peaked over 70 gigawatts. And we are nearing one gigawatt of battery storage on the grid. And batteries don't do well in the cold.

[00:10:18]

And batteries are mainly aimed at getting us through a few hours. They're not aimed at getting us through a several day arctic blast. So storage of of electricity is getting better. But nowhere soon is it anywhere close to getting this through the sort of crisis that we have this year.

[00:10:35]

One of the things I think is really interesting about the grid is that because it's electricity, people tend to think about it as being this high tech thing because we use it for all of our high tech things. And the reality is that we have this grid that involved nobody ever sat down and designed how this was supposed to be and put it together in the most ideal way. It evolved over the last hundred, one hundred and twenty years. And some of those parts are still very old.

[00:11:06]

You probably have read things on Twitter about people finding 70, 80 year old parts in their power systems when the utility people are coming out to fix some of these outages right now. And that's not uncommon anywhere in America. And so you have this situation where you have this old technology that is honestly sort of miraculously holding together as well as it does. I mean, the fact that we have people working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year to make sure that that balance between supply and demand is almost always near perfect.

[00:11:44]

And they don't have much control over the demand side except to just shut people off. And it still works as well as it does is kind of amazing. But then you get into a situation like this and once your supply starts going out, there's not much you can do.

[00:12:03]

So to get a little bit more to the point here in terms of how people are assigning blame, essentially, yes, this is a once in multiple decades type freezing event.

[00:12:17]

Also, you have a lot of people pointing to the unique nature of Texases energy grid. And so Texas is the only state in the country that has essentially its own grid. It's an island, there's the Eastern Seaboard grid, and there's the West Coast grid. And then you have Texas, which is covered by air. And it was designed specifically as an island by lawmakers in Texas so that it could be deregulated and not comply with the kind of federal regulations that would come into play if those lines were to cross state lines.

[00:12:51]

So how much of this is the weather's fault versus actual decisions with regard to energy infrastructure in Texas being better connected to other parts of the country, having us be less of an island and building out more transmission, what we call across the seams, the seams that connect Texas to the eastern U.S. and western US and the connect the east and west to each other would help us get through the majority. We have our crisis much better than we do today, and it would benefit us in so many different ways throughout the year because it would mean that when a hurricane hits, when a fire hits, when a when a heat wave hits, we would be able to bring in power from other parts of the country to keep our lights on.

[00:13:34]

In this particular crisis, having that extra transmission wouldn't have helped as much as in other crises because we're having this arctic blast that is hitting all the states around us as well. So they don't have much surplus power to send it. But in general, for summer events, it would help them for being able to export our power. When it's really windy here and mild weather in the spring and fall, we're missing out on the chance to send clean and cheap power to other states.

[00:14:00]

But what about the pros and cons of deregulation? Because from what I understand, part of this is disconnecting from the rest of the country so that Texas can deregulate and provide cheaper energy to customers. But that also means that energy companies are not necessarily held to the same standards of winterization and preparation that they may be if they had to follow federal guidelines. How much of that is at play here?

[00:14:24]

So the state is trying to regulate that, trying to ensure winterization. I think the way Texas politics work, we're going to want to keep some of that state oversight of our system. And I think the state could manage things much better than it does today without necessarily nationalizing every aspect of this while having better connectivity. What better connecting so we can move power in and out of the state. And that's at least one path to getting here. Certainly having more national involvement is one way, but I don't think that's the only way to solve this problem.

[00:14:57]

It's an interesting question because having not lived in Texas that long, state pride here is infectious. I have never been in a state that is prouder of its statehood than Texas. That said, I'm not sure how much that applies to a independent power grid and the politics of like someone like former Governor Rick Perry going on and saying, you know, Texans would accept longer power outages to keep the federal government out of their business. I'm not so sure I didn't see that play out in the last few days.

[00:15:27]

I think people are are.

[00:15:31]

And so that's where it's like there's a lot of ways in which Texas power grid is really innovative. You know, the frost sinless household, we select wind power. Now, I don't understand the exact intricacies of that because it doesn't mean that my home is only being powered by wind. That's a great option as a consumer. However, I think we saw some of the challenges of the free market this week when we didn't have reserves, we weren't able to meet demand.

[00:15:54]

And then Governor Abbott's response was largely, hey, let's investigate Bercot. Which am I saying that right? Because I don't think many people are aware of that until a few days ago. And it's the same more fishlike regulatory body to some extent that we're all now blaming. I don't know. I think it's increasingly going to be a nationalized issue here, but it seems as if like a little bit of oversight, a little bit of learning from what happened in 2011, as Maggie said, would have gone a long way here in twenty, twenty or twenty, twenty one.

[00:16:24]

I've been trying to point out to people that it's not that our and the way that it's set up, the very weird Texas is an island situation that's neither inherently bad nor inherently good. It is weird, is definitely weird, and it puts some stresses on the system that aren't there in other places. But you also end up in a situation where, like Texas has led the nation in wind power installation for the last 20 years. And part of that is because they are an island.

[00:16:55]

And that puts price incentive pressure on making it more affordable to build wind power there and to have access to that. That is a really big benefit to a grid that isn't connected to other places and that gets really hot in the summer during windy times of year. So there are ways that record is beneficial. There are ways that it's not beneficial. And I don't know that it's as simple of a bad guy, good guy situation as I've seen people kind of try to make this on Twitter.

[00:17:27]

Right. We need to do a better job with the system that we've got. We need to do a better job as Texans and Texas leaders in managing the system. And we're not going to be switching to a regulated monopoly utility situation like some states have. So we need to be better at managing a deregulated market or having regulations where they're needed. But realize that Texas isn't going to look like Georgia. It's not going to look like some other states in the way that we manage our systems.

[00:17:55]

And not even every state looks the same. I mean, I think one thing that's important for people to understand is that each state has different ways that they regulate or don't regulate the utility markets. And it's not a simple thing of like Texas is one way and everybody else is another way.

[00:18:15]

Sir, you mentioned that although the system. Is complex and that there are many facets to the story. You see this becoming a national politics story to some extent in Texas. And just from watching the media landscape over the past week, it seems that a lot of lawmakers are trying to make it so. So I want to address some of the political angles here and then also talk a little bit about what disaster politics actually looks like. To what extent people hold public officials accountable when natural disasters hit.

[00:18:45]

So, first of all, let's talk about renewable energy. And Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News earlier this week, essentially said that freezing wind turbines are responsible for the crisis that we're seeing and that this is an example of why the green New Deal would be a deadly policy to enact what is going on with that argument. Daniel?

[00:19:06]

Yeah, just so many red herrings out there, so much misinformation and just completely phony and deceptive messaging. I've been a bit insulated from even keeping track because of living through the crisis and keeping myself and my kids safe through this and being interviewed by people like you so much that I haven't been able to read as much of the news and I don't have cable to watch Fox News anyway. So I don't know every false narrative that's out there, but I know I've heard several that are that are some real whoppers.

[00:19:35]

And to the extent that we try to politicize and and focus on what's really the smallest piece of it, then we're not going to be able to address what we need. And I think what I've really been pushing, the opportunities that I've had to speak to people and to write about this is to make sure we see this as a as an energy systems issue and to look at how do we build the resilience and the other features that we want our energy systems to provide for us throughout the year.

[00:20:03]

To what extent is it an issue that renewable energy might not be robust and extreme weather circumstances are maybe subject to the whims of the wind or the clouds or whatever it may be like? Can you just make the systems more robust so that they can keep functioning when there's bad weather?

[00:20:23]

Like this is something that we study directly in our research is that we look at how can you build more of these variable clean resources into a mix and they can't do it alone. And how do we build really a portfolio of sources that meets our needs? So I think we're very aware that wind is variable, solar is variable. It's not windy. It's not sunny all the time. One thing that our research has found is that if you blend solar with winds from different parts of the state, and it would be even better if we had the transmission to be able to blend winds from different parts of the country.

[00:20:59]

It's it's very rare that you're not getting a good amount of supply from one of those sources. So if we blend those as much as possible, then it's not still going to be one hundred percent solution. But it it reduces the cost and reduces the strains on everything else, on the whether it's storage, whether it's natural gas, whether it's nuclear, all those other things that are costlier. The more that we can blend our cheapest and cleanest sources together, the better our overall system can be.

[00:21:28]

So the Democratic response here has been something more along the lines of this is the inevitable consequence of deregulation. Government needs to step in to make sure that these kinds of crises don't happen in the future. Also pointing to this severe weather episode of being an example of climate change and why renewable energy is needed and so on. Is that argument true to the facts of this situation or is that over politicized as well?

[00:21:56]

Well, I want to step in a little on that climate change thing, because this is actually something that I've seen coming up a lot in that people have been asking me about a lot. And climate change, it's real. Let me just preface anything I'm about to say with climate change is a very real thing in climate change does cause weather crises, increasing number of weather crises in many parts of the country, including Texas. But the ones that we know are linked to climate change are heat waves in summer and the increased downpour, heavy rain situations that also tend to happen in summer.

[00:22:30]

We don't know that these polar vortex situations are climate linked. That is a hypothesis that some scientists have. It's something that they have collected some data about. It is something that climate scientists are still arguing about. So I want us to be a little careful when we're talking about this particular kind of weather disaster. It may or may not be something that we actually see increasing in the future, like this is not necessarily what you're looking at, is not necessarily the future of Texas.

[00:23:04]

It just might be a bad day in Texas. Absolutely.

[00:23:07]

And Maggie isn't as an atmospheric scientist, I really appreciate you dispelling some of that myth and some of that alarmism that's out there. And I was actually just teaching one of my climate classes two weeks ago, I guess, before I realized this blast was coming or we were looking at a climate impacts and both what's happened in the past. But what we're expecting in the future, Houston gets five times fewer freezing nights than it did in the nineteen seventies. Houston's coldest week of the year on average is over seven degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the nineteen seventies.

[00:23:39]

So our winters and our winter nights are actually warming up even faster than our summers are. And the rest of the planet is warming. We're warming their theories. It's possible that the changes in the jet stream are affecting things, but to consider this really unusual arctic blast is being, oh, there's a clear indicator of climate change or we're going to get a lot more of these in the future, I think is really stretching what science knows. And more likely than not, we're going to see fewer freezing nights overall as the world keeps warming.

[00:24:10]

I think Maggie and Dan raise some really good facts about how to think about this current storm that's hit Texas. And we can't understand whether or not this is something that will increase moving forward. I do think, though, like the political maneuvering we've seen about, oh, this means the green new deal is bad and we can't have more renewable energy in Texas like wind turbines. They're frozen. They're to blame. That was weird political grandstanding to me in the sense that, as Dan was saying earlier, Texas has been such a leader in the nation.

[00:24:42]

On that front, I was reading Perry and Abbott's comments as more. We don't want more federal oversight and regulation. And in the Biden administration, the green New Deal, this is what you're going to get, at least I think that was kind of their political calculation and some of that. But I have to say, again, as someone going through this in the last few days, like that was the last thing I really wanted, like the governor of the state to be addressing at that point would have loved to know, like here's some open shelters for people and warmth.

[00:25:12]

And here's what we're doing to coordinate with mayors on the ground. Not here's why the green new deal is bad. And so that was a really interesting political maneuvering that was playing out largely on Fox News and elsewhere. And why that became a conservative talking point is a little unclear to me in this moment.

[00:25:29]

Well, and it was also so easily disproven because like I'm sitting here in Minnesota where that is pretty normal weather for us in winter. And we're also one of the top states in the nation for wind power. And I assure you, they're fine.

[00:25:46]

It's and these nonsense narratives aren't even internally consistent and they don't even stand up under their own weight. I try to put together the logic and and it doesn't come before B, before C, you know, how is it that you can say that our grid that was expecting to get two thirds of its peak power from natural gas, it failed because of a green new deal that didn't get a single vote in the Senate and failed by a green new deal?

[00:26:11]

That hasn't happened. That wind is to blame for natural gas systems failing. I can't even make sense of the narrative. You see threads from some of the Republican congressman from Texas and you put one to the other. And I'm like, how can you go from this tweet that you wrote two minutes ago to think that has anything consistent with this other one? And I don't know to the extent to which voters see through it, but I would expect the Texans shivering and dealing with this crisis.

[00:26:41]

Now, it might not ring is as the thing they most want to hear these really bonkers and phony narratives that are going on.

[00:26:48]

Let's get to that point specifically, Sarah, where you can tell me what you know from talking to people in your community about how people are reacting, but also in an academic sense, what do we know about how voters respond to crises like this? We've discussed the different nuances here of where responsibility lies. And, of course, this is a natural disaster. But there's some political decision making both in the run up and in the response.

[00:27:15]

So how do voters respond in this kind of situation?

[00:27:17]

That's a great question. So this is going to sound a little counterintuitive, but generally speaking, in a crisis situation, there's actually greater public trust in government officials and agencies. I think the key exception here is the way in which Texas as a state failed to turn the power back on quickly enough. And so there was a lot of distrust. You saw something similar play out with Katrina when that hit Louisiana in 2005. Governor Kathleen Blanco at the time received a lot of criticism, in addition to President Bush for how they managed that situation.

[00:27:54]

They. Late in evacuating New Orleans, Blanco was slow to accept federal assistance and there's still a real question there, too, of who was to actually blame, how much of it was Bush and his administration? How much of it was Louisiana and what they did on the ground. Both politicians, Bush and Blanco, had significant drives in the poll. Bush, of course, was in his second term. And so there weren't really electoral repercussions. But for someone like Blanco, when she was looking at running again, decided not to because her polls were so bad.

[00:28:25]

Of course, Hurricane Rita came shortly thereafter. Katrina which doubled down, and 80 percent of New Orleans at one point was under water.

[00:28:33]

I should just say as an aside here, that you're from Louisiana. I remember Katrina so well because right from Louisiana, she ended up not running. Right. And so then Bobby Jindal, who she defeated previously ran and won and went on to serve two terms in Louisiana. And what we see time and again then is that these disasters often will have a real significant electoral repercussion for politicians and they are punished at the ballot box for that. But by the same token, like, OK, now Governor Abbott has said, let's investigate Ellacott.

[00:29:07]

Let's make sure this never happens again. Voters don't reward politicians for taking preventative measures. Right. And so there's kind of been in that crude cost benefit analysis of what they should do. They're actually better off if they, like, sink a lot of money into how they respond to the crisis versus trying to prevent it from happening again, which is really discouraging when you think about how we actually long term fix some of these problems that we've seen come here.

[00:29:37]

OK, so this feels really apropos for like this entire year, right? I mean, we're talking about a lot of different disasters that required long term pre investment to prevent. And there's not an incentive for that, whether you're talking about real long term reinvestment to prevent pandemic issues and to be on top of that, whether you're talking about it for wildfires, whether you're talking about it for electrical infrastructure development, whether you're talking about it for water infrastructure development, this is my call for infrastructure, which is the longest running joke of the Trump administration, the longest of desperate, desperate Trump administration.

[00:30:22]

I'll just add one data point to the conversation is that as an engineering professor, I've gotten more questions about icicles on wind turbine blades than about all the rest of the crisis combined from people in the community, maybe even more so than than the journalists I speak to. And so that political narrative, at least to the extent that we're talking about one of the tiniest pieces of the crises that those phony narratives are getting through to some pretty educated people that are coming to me with questions.

[00:30:53]

Sarah, you said that essentially if the government is seen as mishandling a response to a crisis, there can be repercussions. But at the same time that governments can also be rewarded by the measures that they take, by spending a lot of money or doing investigations after crises happen. And then, Maggie, of course, you said that the incentives aren't there to actually fix the problem on the front end. The political incentives are there to fix it on the back end.

[00:31:18]

How do those lessons apply to this situation? Does it seem like there's going to be a political backlash in Texas? Well, the Ted Cruz flying to Cancun situation overshadowed some of this and create a backlash. How do we see the different incentives and dynamics that you've all described as playing out in this scenario?

[00:31:35]

The thing that has come up to my mind is being the concern is that people will get the idea coming away from this with political narratives that Texas is somehow uniquely backwards in its electricity system and their state, especially in the blue state, is fine. And that's not really how our electric grid is. We are massively in need of upgrades and maintenance on this electric grid that's aging, aging electric grid and getting it prepared to be more resilient, getting it prepared to take more wind power and solar power and have those things be more useful to us.

[00:32:13]

There's tons of parts that need to be replaced and new parts that need to be added. And that is true everywhere. And if this political narrative comes down to one side being like wind power is bad and the other side being like. Texas politics is bad, we again lose the incentive to do anything about this bigger problem that is everybody's problem it in terms of some of the political repercussions.

[00:32:41]

I do think the Cruz story, because it's so sensational he bought a plane to fly to Kinko's during this, is going to dominate some of the headlines for this more than maybe some of the actions that Abbott has taken. I do think it's a bit of a red herring. Cruz isn't up immediately for reelection. Abbott is, though, in twenty twenty two. And again, who knows where better work is going. He's still openly considering a governor's bid, but he was making the circuits on cable news to say, hey, Abbott's response has been unacceptable.

[00:33:14]

The way in which Republican legislatures in Texas are handling this is not acceptable. And so I do think, particularly if we look back at Katrina again and some of the response mechanisms there, an understanding to that. What happened in New Orleans with Katrina, the death toll was much higher. It was close to 2000. We don't know the full extent of the damage here in Texas, but am optimistic that it's much lower. But in the immediate wake of the crisis, with more than four million Texans without power, Abbott isn't saying here's the coordinated relief.

[00:33:44]

Here's home working with the Biden administration to get federal aid. Instead, he's calling for an investigation of the regulatory board air court here. And I don't know how much that really was resonating with Texans on the ground, particularly the stories that mayor and Colorado City, who is just like only the strong, will survive, which is just like and Texans against state pride is high. But I don't think that was the type of messaging that people wanted when they were on day to day three without power and wondering how do I keep my family warm?

[00:34:13]

And as Dan was saying, his wife there in the hospital said to deal with a lot of carbon monoxide poisoning. People were taking really desperate, unsafe measures to be warm because there weren't well advertised shelters in place where people knew they could go instead of a lot of the emphasis was on Texas failed grid.

[00:34:32]

All right. Well, let's leave it there. Thank you, Sarah, Maggie and Daniel. Thank you, David. Be safe. Sarah and Daniel. Thanks. Yes, for sure. Stay safe. And everyone in Texas stay safe. And also in the surrounding states, there are still significant power outages and Louisiana and Mississippi and there could be more as this storm moves further east and north. But that's it for today. My name is Galen Droog.

[00:34:56]

Tony Chow is in the virtual control room clear of Gary Curtis is on audio editing. You can get in touch by emailing us at Podcast's at five thirty eight dotcom. You can also, of course, tweet us with any questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show, leave us a rating or review in the Apple podcast store or tell someone about us. Thanks for listening and we will see you soon.