PHARR, Texas — On Friday, the White House said it plans to speak with 12 Rio Grande Valley mayors along with both Hidalgo and Cameron county judges to offer assistance after a winter storm hit the area.
City of Pharr Mayor, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, said as of Thursday he has not been contacted by the White House.
“There’s no way you can do this without federal assistance, and it needs to be addressed with one plan,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez said the city faces two issues, COVID-19 and energy.
The winter weather this week has also caused a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, according to White House officials.
White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said vaccine delivery to all 50 states has been impacted by the storms that covered roads with ice and snow and led utilities to use rolling blackouts to ease strained power grids.
“In our community, the infrastructure failed the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Hernandez. “Somebody was in need, and we weren’t there for them, well that’s your responsibility that’s why we pay you—a utility company—to take care of us and you failed at it, so you are going to be held accountable from a legal aspect but a financial one as well.”
Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said he was contacted by White House officials on Wednesday.
“I did have a call with the White House director of inter-governmental affairs,” said Mendez. “Then she let me know the FEMA resources that were available and that their office and FEMA would be available to assist us if we needed any sort of help.”
Mendez said the city is better prepared compared to other cities in Texas.
“At this point we are probably looking at a generator and some power equipment,” said Mendez.
The White House Internal Communications said they are still working to contact every city on their list.
During a press conference held on Thursday morning, Bill Magness, the president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), thanked people for conserving energy and said those steps are no longer necessary for it.
ERCOT officials said it had ended all controlled outages across the state.