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Texas family rations baby’s oxygen tanks in power outage
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Texas family rations baby’s oxygen tanks in power outage

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In Texas, just under 500,000 homes and businesses remained without power, down from about 3 million on Wednesday.

Power was restored to more homes and businesses in Texas on Thursday after a deadly blast of winter this week overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold. But the crisis was far from over, with many people still in need of safe drinking water.

Fewer than a half-million homes remained without electricity, although utility officials said limited rolling blackouts could still occur.

But families were still struggling to stay warm and deal with burst pipes and other woes.

Angel Garcia and her family in Killeen, Texas, had to ration oxygen tanks for their 5-month-old son Christopher, who was born with premature lungs. Garcia, a nurse, was watching him constantly, she said.

The family lost power to their home Monday night and was running out of wood, so they burned their 3-year-old daughter's baby blocks in the fireplace, she said.

"A lot of people don't know the severity of what's going on. People are tearing down their fences to burn," Garcia said, between tears. "We started burning my daughter's little wooden blocks because it was just too cold."

She says she hopes that people realize how bad the situation is, in a state where people are not accustomed to this type of cold weather.

"Not everyone has gas, but we waited in line about an hour and finally we were able to get some gas," Garcia said. "There's pretty much nowhere to go. Everyone in Texas is in the same boat. If they have electricity, there's no water. If they have water, there's no electricity."

Read more about the family's story here.

Here are more stories of the struggles Texans faced during the winter crisis:

Timothy Wilsey, his wife, Nicole, and their 7-year-old son were without power for at least 72 hours.

The Euless, Texas, family was using cars for warmth and charging battery packs and phones, which Wilsey described as their "only lines of communication."

Wilsey said the family was only using phones to quickly look at the news and search for restaurants that may be open and serving food.

The family mostly has been lying "under covers in bed" in their apartment, which is only heated by candles, he said.

"We are keeping busy by going old school and reading books and playing board games," Wilsey told CNN by text message.

In San Antonio, Texas, Claudia and Eder Lemus were fortunate to have their power return Wednesday night, after trying to keep their three young kids warm with a fire, multiple layers of clothes and blankets. They'd even run the burners on the stove, an unconventional way of keeping warm that carries its own risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As a military family, Claudia said the family had lived all over the U.S. and even abroad in places with heavy snow.

"We never thought it was going to be like this," she said. "We've lived in Virginia where they have a lot of snow. We've lived abroad in Korea where they have a lot of snow and we just — we never anticipated the city to come to such a standstill because of this."

Burst pipes and flooded homes

Jesus Cortez and his three roommates were forced out of their college apartment on Tuesday when a sprinkler busted in one of the bedrooms, causing the apartment to flood in San Marcos, Texas.

The students have been doing a mix of online learning and in-person classes, but with the current weather situation, those classes have been canceled, he said.

"We were walking in a pool of water trying to take out as much possible trying to make sense of what was happening," Cortez wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, it got so cold inside the home Sandra Erickson rents with her husband in Friendswood, Texas, that she said the pipes burst. As a result, the ceiling in three rooms collapsed.

"This is like a hurricane catastrophe," she said.

Philip Shelley, a Fort Worth, Texas, resident, told CNN that his family was struggling to keep everyone fed.

Shelley said he was trying to keep his pregnant wife, Amber, and his 11-month-old daughter, Ava, warm by keeping them bundled. Amber is due on April 4.

"(Ava) is down to half a can of formula," Philip said. "Stores are out if not extremely low on food. Most of our food in the refrigerator is spoiled. Freezer food is close to thawed but we have no way to heat it up."

On Tuesday night, Philip said he had to drive across town to find an open restaurant. At one point their power flickered on long enough that they were able to cook a meal before it went out — again.

CNN's Amir Vera, Paul P. Murphy and Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this story.

Photos: The latest scenes from Texas amid winter storm


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