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Thousands Still Lack Power As Temperatures Plunge And Shelters Open

Shelley Kofler
The weight of ice on its limbs caused a tree on Mercedes Ave. in Dallas to splinter and crash into a roof and porch.

At midday Saturday, more than 115,000 North Texans were facing another day of deep-freeze temperatures with no electricity, which means no heat.

Oncor, the company that maintains most North Texas power lines, hopes that power will be restored for many residents and businesses by Sunday night. But that depends on several factors, including weather conditions.

The sound of buzz saws and wood chippers provided the sound track Friday in East Dallas, as residents tried to clear huge trees and limbs that snapped under the weight of the ice.

A woman who identified herself as Chong said she was awakened by a loud crash at 3 a.m.

“Cracking. I thought somebody trying to break in.  Dog and myself almost had a heart attack,” she said remembering the frightening noise. 

When Chong looked outside the front window she saw a 30-foot tree split into thirds, part of it landing on the roof and porch. She was actually relieved to see the splintered tree and not the thug she thought was breaking in.

“I expected some huge guy standing next to the door,” she said.

Chong didn’t lose her power.  But many of her neighbors did.  Including Nick DiCarlo.

“My little girl was excited for her first snow so she ran and played outside for a little while.  Then the power ran out and we realized we weren’t prepared.” 

So Nick bundled up and headed to the closest Target store only to find it too was dark -without power.  But the credit card machines still worked so Nick picked up a few toys for his daughter and several flashlights.

How does he expect to stay warm with night time temperatures in the 20’s –or lower?

“We’re hoping the power comes on for the most part.  We’ve got a lot of blankets.  We should be OK,” he said optimistically. 

It’s hard to know how long Nick and his family will be counting on those blankets for warmth.  Oncor says it planned for the bad weather and called in crews from outside the area.  But late Friday afternoon Oncor’s Storm Center website said many zip codes might not have power until Saturday afternoon or later.  Nick’s Lakewood neighborhood was still “being assessed.”

The North Texas office for the Red Cross says it is working with municipalities and has opened shelters in Sachse, Terrell, Decatur and Sanger. Click here for a list of area shelters.

The City of Dallas says it’s had a lot of calls about shelters and is deciding whether to open some as well.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.