Boy, 11, 'freezes to death' at home as millions remain without water

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·4-min read

An 11-year-old boy has died of suspected hypothermia amid a ferocious snow storm that left his family without power for two days.

Cristian Pineda moved to Houston, Texas, two years ago from Honduras with his mum, Maria Pineda, and was delighted when snow blanketed the state last week.

On Sunday, he played in the snow in his yard, but just 24 hours later Ms Pineda found his lifeless body in his bed huddled under a pile of blankets after their home lost power, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Cristian Pineda standing in the snow
Cristian Pineda is among at least 50 people to amid the ferocious snow storm. Source: GoFundMe

Temperatures at the time were reported to be at least -0C.

Cristian's younger brother, whom he shared a bed with, was fine.

Jaliza Yera, Cristian's aunt, told KHOU11 Cristian was wearing a shirt, jumper, two pairs of pants and socks when he went to bed that night in the family's trailer.

The 11-year-old is among at least 50 deaths across nine US states during the week-long freezing conditions, according to CNN.

A layer of snow coats the ground in the Fairmount neighbourhood of Fort Worth, Texas, on February 14. Source: ABACA/PA
A layer of snow coats the ground in the Fairmount neighbourhood of Fort Worth, Texas, on February 14. Source: ABACA/PA

Millions in Texas were left without power or heat for days and some areas still don't have access to water.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family get Cristian's remains back to Honduras.

"His wish was to see his grandparents again and that is what the mother wants to fulfil, please help with whatever you can in order to hopefully be able to achieve this," the GoFundMe says.

More than $A60,000 has been raised so far.

A spokesperson for Conroe Police Department told the Houston Chronicle an autopsy is being conducted to determine Christian's cause of death.

People wait in line to fill propane tanks on Wednesday in Houston.
Millions in Texas were left without power or heat for days and some areas still don't have access to water. Source: AP

Millions without water as death toll grows

In the latest fallout from the crippling winter storm, more than 14 million Texans have had to endure disrupted water service, leaving many longing for a hot shower just as the state's power grid jerked back to life after five days of blackouts.

All the state's power plants are functioning again, although more than 195,000 homes remained without electricity on Friday morning (local).

Residents of 160 of Texas' 254 counties suffered water service disruptions, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

A warming trend is expected to relieve some of the pressure on the region on Saturday.

Water to be loaded into vehicles is stacked at a City of Houston water distribution site
In Houston, a mass distribution of bottled water opened at Delmar Stadium on Friday. Source: AP

"One more night of below freezing temperatures at some areas, then a warm-up is expected into the weekend," the weather service's Houston office wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Bitter cold weather and snow have paralysed Texas since Sunday, shutting down much of the state's electricity grid and freezing pipes and waterways, leaving communities across the state either without water altogether or forced to boil it for safety.

Monday was the third-coldest day since records began, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, with a statewide average temperature of -8.5C, citing records dating to 1899.

That same day, temperatures in the state capital Austin dropped below those in parts of Alaska.

In parts of the state, frozen roads remained impassable. Ice-downed lines and other issues had utility workers scrambling to reconnect homes to power.

Hospitals in some hard-hit areas ran out of water and transferred patients elsewhere. Millions of people were ordered to boil their drinking water after water-treatment plants lost power, which could allow harmful bacteria to proliferate.

Picture of a snowy power plant.
A warming trend is expected to relieve some of the pressure on the region on Saturday. Source: AFP via Getty Images

In Houston, a mass distribution of bottled water opened at Delmar Stadium on Friday.

Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, said she was pleased with progress but warned residents to brace for more hardship.

"The grid is still fragile," she said, noting cold weather would persist for a few days, which would "put pressure on these power plants that have just come back on".

President Joe Biden said he would accelerate federal emergency assistance for Texas and had directed his administration to identify other resources to help the state.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed all power-generating plants were online as of Thursday afternoon. He urged lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure the grid was prepared for cold weather in the future.

With AAP

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