The winter storm that left dozens of Texans dead, millions without power and nearly 15 million with water issues could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey.
The deadly 2017 hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast region. Last week’s winter storm impacted every region of the state, a reason why experts and officials are discussing the possibility of damage and cost exceeding those from Hurricane Harvey.
“All 254 counties will have been impacted in some way by the freeze,” said Lee Loftis, director of government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. “That is just unheard of.”
As of Monday, state agencies reported spending $41 million on the storm, and local governments had spent $49 million, according to Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Department of Emergency Management. Kidd said he expects the state to be reimbursed for 75% of its expenses by the federal government. Only a fraction of local governments reported their spending, and he said the expenses already incurred by state and local governments only account for emergency costs. Kidd has not yet reported the cost of damage to state infrastructure.
Abbott has asked lawmakers to reform the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s power grid operator. He asked lawmakers to mandate the winterization of generators and power plants, a proposal previously floated but not implemented by state leaders in the aftermath of another winter storm in 2011. And Abbott requested that lawmakers provide power companies with funding to make the necessary changes.