Smith County issues disaster declaration, urges residents to stay home

Local News

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran issued a Disaster Declaration for Smith County on Sunday due to the winter storm.

This is because of the extremely hazardous driving conditions in the area that have already closed part of I-20.

Emergency management officials are urging residents to stay home if possible and refrain from driving on icy roads.

On Sunday morning, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that Interstate 20, between U.S. Highway 69 North and Farm-to-Market Road 14, was shut down in both directions and several motorists were stranded due to icy conditions. Visit www.DriveTexas.org for updated conditions and traffic updates.

Smith County officials have been informed that East Texas could experience rolling brown outs. Brownouts are different than blackouts in that they are only partial outages rather than a complete shutdown of power. If this occurs, they ask that you do not contact your electricity provider.

In preparation of any loss of electricity, make sure generators are fueled up and phones are charged.

The state of Texas is already under an emergency declaration as of Friday because of the severe weather. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Operations Center to alter their operations to 24 hours a day until the end of next week.

What you can do to help

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible, through Tuesday, Feb. 16, to help the state with electricity shortages.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said. “We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”

Here are some tips to reduce electricity use:

  • Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
  • Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid using large appliances (ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
  • Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.

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