A new analysis showed that about 200 people died in an unprecedented winter storm that hit Texas in February 2021, making the disaster one of the worst in the state over the past century. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as investigations continue. Most of the deaths were caused by hypothermia during prolonged massive power outages.
An unprecedented winter storm hit Texas in early February, prompting a statewide disaster announcement as winter storm warnings were introduced in hundreds of counties. More than 3.8 million homes were left without electricity, and farmers lost at least $ 600 million due to severe impact on agricultural production.
The state estimates that a total of 125 people have died in Texas, mostly due to hypothermia. However, a new analysis by the Houston Chronicle by forensic experts, the Department of Public Health, Lawsuits and News found a total of 194 deaths.
Irwin Redlener, a researcher at Columbia University’s National Disaster Preparedness Center, said the number of indirect deaths could be even higher than the state’s final figures.
At least 100 people died from hypothermia, 16 from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of hazardous heating methods and at least 22 from medical devices failing after a power outage. Meanwhile, according to authorities, 16 deaths were due to other causes, such as car accidents, and 40 were due to a hurricane without any specific cause.
“This is almost double the death toll from Hurricane Harvey,” said State Spokesman Rafael Anchia. “There was no direct video footage of flooded houses, roof demolitions or tidal waves, but it was more deadly and destructive than anything we’ve seen in modern state history.”
The death toll is expected to rise in the coming weeks as death investigators investigate the backlog of cases. The Travis County medical examiner alone is investigating more than 80 fatalities between February 13 and February 20.