America - its all a bit odd...

Better electrical interconnects with neighbouring grids would have reduced the problems in Texas considerably. That's one of the basic principles of electrical reliability in the rest of the world.
Exactly. But then they would have to submit to Federal oversight.
 
(...) True, but harder to achieve in some places than others, especially in the US where the states really have substantial independence.
The US is more centralised than Canada and a US state has less independence than a Canadian province, yet nobody in Canada thinks that not having grid interconnections is a good idea.
 
A week ain’t much, especially depending on what kind of mess the infrastructure is in.
Granted, but if it's that bad that FEMA/Military can't help by then, there would probably be an evacuation. It's not as if there are unavoidable large vulnerable bridges between here and... oh... Arizona.
I mean, in theory, there could be an asteroid impact and we'd need supplies and energy for a year. Plus lots of ammo for the following post-apocalyptic breakdown in society. You have to draw the line at 'reasonable' somewhere.

The reality is that the guidance for three days' supply isn't premised on the idea that the disaster will be over by three days, it's premised on the idea that external support cannot be relied upon for three days, and you're supposed to be able to last that long before some form of solutions are in place. For the majority of the US's residents, that's a reasonable timescale.
 
Granted, but if it's that bad that FEMA/Military can't help by then, there would probably be an evacuation. It's not as if there are unavoidable large vulnerable bridges between here and... oh... Arizona.
I mean, in theory, there could be an asteroid impact and we'd need supplies and energy for a year. Plus lots of ammo for the following post-apocalyptic breakdown in society. You have to draw the line at 'reasonable' somewhere.

The reality is that the guidance for three days' supply isn't premised on the idea that the disaster will be over by three days, it's premised on the idea that external support cannot be relied upon for three days, and you're supposed to be able to last that long before some form of solutions are in place. For the majority of the US's residents, that's a reasonable timescale.
I was thinking a very successful cyber attack, flood, or in my case a tornado. We have had the latter and the former seems to be an ever growing possibility in today’s world.
 
I saw a few stories in the Canadian news which featured Canadians who had been in Texas for several years and which asked them how things were there.

They said that Americans from the northern US who lived there had the same opinions on what the problems were as they did.

So far as roads are concerned, the main problem is that Texans are just bad drivers. They drive too fast for the road conditions, they tailgate, and they don't know how to use their brakes effectively.

The cold they didn't see as a real problem when they were out and about. Dress sensibly and it's not a problem. People from Texas just don't tend to dress properly for cold weather even if they have warm clothes they could be wearing in their closets somewhere.

The biggest fault they saw as being how buildings and water systems were constructed. Houses are poorly insulated, something that affects them in summer as well as winter by the way. Also water pipes are not buried properly nor are they insulated adequately. There will be huge amounts of water damage to clean up in the aftermath of all this.

This last bit is significant as while they may not get cold weather every winter, it happens often enough that it should be taken into account in their building codes to avoid unnecessary property damage.

It will be interesting to see what sort of insurance claims will be upcoming for problems that should have been entirely preventable.
 
Modern houses are not piped the same way as houses built in the 60s. These days, there is a concrete slab foundation, so it's an 'enclosed' structure, as it were. The majority of the burst pipes occurred in older buildings which are a sort of raised beam system, with a gap of about 1-2 feet between the ground and the floor under which you may low crawl. The pipes are suspended under the floor and very easy to access for repair. It's common in warmer climes as it's extra cooling air wafting under the house, there are vents right at ground level. You can see a bunch of the rectangular grates in this image of my old place in California, those black rectangles. (Built mid-60s)
1613890754155.png

With the advent of more/better air conditioning systems, there is no longer a need for the underfloor ventilation and as a result, pipes are far less vulnerable to the cold in today's structures than they are in older ones.
 
I do feel that photo of folks queueing for water in Texas is disingenuous at best, during many of the floods in the UK in the past decade, water bowsers were seen to ensure clean drinking water.

Labelling Texas as being Third World for cocked up utilities in a once in a decade weather event is daft.



True, but harder to achieve in some places than others, especially in the US where the states really have substantial independence.
It was avoidable as they never implemented the guidelines agreed to avoid a repeat after this happened in 2010 and in 2010 they were were having the same discussion as to why the guidelines agreed in 1989 to prevent this weren't implemented after the massive freeze that caused week long power outages and utility and food disruption.

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It was avoidable as they never implemented the guidelines agreed to avoid a repeat after this happened in 2010 and in 2010 they were were having the same discussion as to why the guidelines agreed in 1989 to prevent this weren't implemented after the massive freeze that caused week long power outages and utility and food disruption.

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Yet when temperatures dropped in 2018 to levels equal to 2011 levels, 2017–18 North American cold wave - Wikipedia, the lights all stayed on and nobody talks about it, because some changes were made to the system. They were simply not made to the level of dealing with what we had last week.
 
Modern houses are not piped the same way as houses built in the 60s. These days, there is a concrete slab foundation, so it's an 'enclosed' structure, as it were. The majority of the burst pipes occurred in older buildings which are a sort of raised beam system, with a gap of about 1-2 feet between the ground and the floor under which you may low crawl. The pipes are suspended under the floor and very easy to access for repair. It's common in warmer climes as it's extra cooling air wafting under the house, there are vents right at ground level. You can see a bunch of the rectangular grates in this image of my old place in California, those black rectangles. (Built mid-60s)
View attachment 551346
With the advent of more/better air conditioning systems, there is no longer a need for the underfloor ventilation and as a result, pipes are far less vulnerable to the cold in today's structures than they are in older ones.
I don't know what is under the house in the photo, but crawl spaces were pretty common in older houses (pre-WWII) in Canada. I assume the same was true in the northern US.

The main purpose of the crawl space was to raise the house above the ground to keep it away from water in the ground and minor flooding. There has to be ventilation to prevent moisture from building up and causing mould or rot. However, the pipes and ductwork needed to be inside the insulation to prevent freezing.

Slab floors are cheaper than crawl spaces or basements, which is probably why you are seeing them on newer houses in Texas. I've seen them in Canada, but they are rare. Footings obviously need to be below the frost line in Canada (and the northern US), so the tendency has been that if you have to go through that trouble you may as well dig out a full basement while you are at it and get more usable space. Footings can be shallower in Texas, so the cheap option is to just go for a slab floor.

From the reports from Texas that I saw the problems with pipes sounded more like some of it was shallow burial of the pipes to the houses, or even exposed plumbing in some places. Some of it also was likely plumbing located in outside walls in houses, which is a big no-no in Canada even if it is under the insulation. Burst pipes in walls will obviously cause major damage.

If you lose heat in a house for an extended period of time in Canada and there is danger of the pipes freezing, the standard advice is to shut off the water where it enters the house and to drain the pipes. There should be a low point in the plumbing which is intended to allow for this. It is also standard practice for non-winterised cottages to do this every autumn.
 
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If you lose heat in a house for an extended period of time in Canada and there is danger of the pipes freezing, the standard advice is to shut off the water where it enters the house and to drain the pipes. There should be a low point in the plumbing which is intended to allow for this. It is also standard practice for non-winterised cottages to do this every autumn.
We don't drain them, I'm not even sure if it's possible to do it around here. We are told to keep a little trickle running to prevent it from icing up.
 
We don't drain them, I'm not even sure if it's possible to do it around here. We are told to keep a little trickle running to prevent it from icing up.
I just googled for stories on burst pipes in Texas, and there's loads of them. Apparently the insurance industry are saying they expect this storm to be the largest insurance claim event in Texas history, and a lot of it apparently will be burst pipes.

A lot of people won't find out that they have burst pipes until they thaw. Plumbers are already being run off their feet and there's a shortage of plumbing material with which to make repairs. If you need a plumber you will be standing in line behind a lot of other people.

The advice in the news is that if you don't know where your water shut off is you need to find it now, not go hunting for it when water comes gushing out of your walls or ceiling. If you have frozen pipes you need to shut off your water now. Even people who didn't lose power have had pipes freeze due to the way they construct houses in Texas.
 
Here come the bills and it isn't pretty! I feel for these people with these bills but a part of me thinks that some of them must have known what they were getting into. Oh and all the finger pointing and blaming as well.

Wow. A $16,000 electric bill for a week's worth of electricity. People were getting billed on a "market rate" that went through the roof when demand spiked. They had a choice of either freezing or seeing their savings disappear.
 
Wow. A $16,000 electric bill for a week's worth of electricity. People were getting billed on a "market rate" that went through the roof when demand spiked. They had a choice of either freezing or seeing their savings disappear.

Hey I really do feel for them hell it's wiped out the old guys life savings. I hope politicians just for once, could take a break from their blame games and get this sorted out. Freeze or go broke, hell of a choice!

Could be that folks enter into these contracts never thinking that something like this could happen in Texas.
 
Hey I really do feel for them hell it's wiped out the old guys life savings. I hope politicians just for once, could take a break from their blame games and get this sorted out. Freeze or go broke, hell of a choice!

Could be that folks enter into these contracts never thinking that something like this could happen in Texas.
I would hope that utility companies have a common sense moment and revert to normal billing. But it doesn’t do the Texans any favors...

At this rate we will be donating to @Effendi...
 
How do these folks stand insurance wise? Will the Insurance companies try pulling the "Act of God" thing, would that be legal in Texas?
 
How do these folks stand insurance wise? Will the Insurance companies try pulling the "Act of God" thing, would that be legal in Texas?
With respect to burst pipes, the stories that I read today were saying that a lot of people will be covered but that they need to read the fine print of their policies. They may be covered for damage that happens suddenly from a large leak, but not for slower leaks that happen over a period of time.

They also probably won't be covered for damage that happens as a result of floods from melting snow.

I wouldn't be surprised if insurance companies will look to limit their liability by only covering damage up to the point at which the home owner "could have known that a problem may have occurred", and not for damage after that point. For example, if your pipes froze but you didn't shut off the water until the ice melted and the water came squirting out of the walls, they could claim that you contributed to the damage by not taking reasonable action to prevent it. I don't know if they will take that line, but it's possible. Since from the sounds of it the insurance industry are looking at billions in claims, anything they can do to reduce that can be worth a lot of money.
 
It wouldn't really be helpful if the insurance companies start going broke, so you have probably hit the nail on the head.

So if the Insurance companies can't or won't pony up then the State needs to anti up and if the can't or won't then it needs to go to Washington D.C. and the President makes the decision for them and puts his VP in charge of it all :twisted:

Either way these people are going to need help putting this all back together be it damage or rebuilding, they've paid their taxes, now someone needs to step up and do right by them.
 

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