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Over 13 million Texans facing water crisis after brutal winter storm

Texas faces water crisis as death toll climbs
Texas faces water crisis as death toll mounts from frigid temps 03:56

The crisis in Texas is expanding after a frigid winter storm crippled infrastructure in the state. Although electricity has been mostly restored, more than 13 million people — almost half of the state's population — don't currently have access to clean, running water.

In many homes, the tap is dry. Finding bottled water is nearly impossible. Some have resorted to boiling snow. Houston, which is America's fourth largest city, opened 11 sites Thursday to help give away water.

Texas — winter storm
Donated water is distributed to Houston residents. David J. Phillip / AP

When the pipes burst in Texas Representative Shawn Thierry's home, her world exploded. She and her 8-year-old daughter are in a hotel, but they won't be able to live there long term.

"I mean this is a nightmare, this is everyone's nightmare," Thierry told CBS News. "Your home is your abode, it's where you go to find your peace and work and now, I'm uprooted."

Thierry is among millions in a new phase of misery. As lights come back on, the horrors of the storm are revealed.

Water is everywhere — or nowhere, as many treatment plants were knocked offline and millions were given boil water orders. A line to get into a plumbing supply store ran for blocks. Even food has become hard to come by as some grocery store shelves lay bare.

Dangerous winter storm lashes East Coast with snow and ice 01:04

Along the East Coast, the snow and ice are causing serious car crashes and pulling down power lines, plunging tens of thousands into the dark. President Biden declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma where residents there saw the longest streak of sub-zero temperatures on record.

This winter storm even created a political one, too, when Texas Senator Ted Cruz was spotted on a flight to Cancun while his constituents were suffering in the cold. He arrived back in Houston under a police escort after photos and video of him went public. CBS News learned that he was originally planning to return on Saturday.

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