Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued a news release revising the official number of deaths resulting from Winter Storm Uri, which caused a catastrophic failure of the state’s electricity grid, resulting in prolonged blackouts, property damage and deaths. The previous death toll from the February storm stood at 151. This latest release revises that number upward to 210, an increase of 59.
This updated estimate still stands far below 702, which is the number reported by Buzzfeed on May 27th in a story titled, “The Texas Winter Storm And Power Outages Killed Hundreds More People Than The State Says.” Here, BuzzFeed uses a method called “excess deaths” analysis, an established method used to assess deaths attributable to a specific disaster. In its report, BuzzFeed compares the number of those who died during and immediately after the storm with mortality data from the CDC. The report also says neighboring states that were hit by the storm but did not suffer power outages did not show the same spike in deaths Texas did.
Why those in charge would ignore this data seems a rather simple deduction. It illustrates their incompetence and complicity in the disaster. The public deserves answers as to why this preventable tragedy was allowed to happen. So far, ERCOT – the state’s electricity grid operator – and the for-profit power providers that deliver electricity to customers have avoided answering these important questions. The public’s job — and ours, as watchdogs — will be to hold these people accountable in the hopes that we won’t be having this exact same debate next year. If you or someone you know lost someone in this February’s winter storms, please contact us here for a free consultation.