The crisis in the largest U.S. oil- and gas-producing state has put Democratic President Joe Biden's White House squarely at odds with Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who initially did not acknowledge Biden's 2020 election win.
The White House said on Thursday a severe winter storm engulfing Texas and nearby states was the type of extreme weather event that climate change is triggering, rejecting assertions by Texas officials that "green energy" caused widespread power outages.
Some 325,000 Texas households were still without power, down from about 2.7 million on Wednesday, according to poweroutage.com, a website that tracks outages.
"Water should only be used to sustain life at this point", the city of 45,000 said in an advisory.
"What happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again", Abbott told an afternoon news conference. "Through our national partner, HCA Healthcare, we are able to secure and source food, linens, medication and supplies needed to care for and serve our patients", the statement said.
Natural gas wells and pipelines in Texas, the country's biggest energy-producing state, do not undergo the winterization of those farther north - resulting in many being knocked offline by the prolonged freezing weather.
FEMA sent generators to support water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes in Texas, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, officials said.
"The lights may be on, but we're not quite yet out of the dark, we're not quite yet out of all the challenges", Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said she did not trust that Ercot had a handle on the situation and warned the outages may last several more days.
"The grid is still fragile". "Our problem was not the power plant".
Hidalgo encouraged donations to food banks, with some residents struggling to secure food and water.
Critics have also raised questions about Abbott's leadership. "We couldn't cook so that's why we came up here".
The Texas grid was "seconds and minutes" away from a catastrophic failure that could have caused uncontrolled blackouts for months, said officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid for 90% of the state. "I know a lot of people in our community still don't have it (power) and are frustrated".
With many people still without electricity or safe drinking water, Tim Boyd, a now-former mayor of a West Texas town, came under fire for his Facebook post lashing out against freezing residents for complaining.
Water pressure dropped after lines froze, and because many people left faucets dripping to prevent pipes from icing over, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
"We have been caught in the middle of something here where there have been individuals who have not had electricity or power for about three and a half days now [and] it's zero degrees", Evans said of Mansfield, a suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The latest storm front was certain to complicate recovery efforts, especially in states that are unaccustomed to such weather - parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley.
Almost two dozen deaths have been attributed to the cold snap.
Cruz "is emblematic of what the Texas Republican Party and its leaders have become: weak, corrupt, inept and self-serving politicians who don't give a damn about the people they were elected to represent", Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said. Without heat or running water, some are staying with relatives or friends, or flocking to shelters or even stores to escape the intolerable conditions. Cesar Garcia, director of Galveston's Parks and Recreation Department, called out as he oversaw scrubbing of the shelter in the McGuire-Dent Recreation Center.