Nightly News | February 07, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The massive blizzard and cold weather system that blanketed much of the country last week caused some big problems that haven't been solved yet. In the American Southwest there was a huge demand for heat as the temperatures dropped, and led to natural gas and even water being cut off in places from Texas to Arizona and New Mexico . And places like El Paso , Texas , are hurting now for many days in a row. Our own George Lewis is in Sunland Park , New Mexico , tonight. George , good evening.
GEORGE LEWIS reporting: Good morning, Brian . It's a double whammy, cold temperatures combined with an aging utility infrastructure producing a raft of problems; including, a few miles down the road from here in El Paso , a water crisis . In El Paso , city officials have declared a water emergency as thousands of residents were left high and dry by freezing pipes and empty reservoirs. Officials are appealing for the public's help.
Mr. NICK COSTANZO (El Paso Water Utilities): Asking folks again not to wash cars, shower, use the dishwasher, clothes washing machines or anything else that uses large amounts of water.
LEWIS: Today's warmer temperatures helped crews thawing out some of the frozen pipes that led to the shortages at the city's reservoirs. But with the thaw they're discovering all sorts of new leaks. Schools have been closed and many businesses, including car washes and laundromats, were forced to shut down. And the city is warning residents who do have water to boil it before drinking. In New Mexico , natural gas outages have left much of the state without gas and heat. Utility teams, with help from the National Guard , were going door-to-door working to restore natural gas to more than 30,000 customers.
Unidentified Man: I've never heard of anything quite like this.
LEWIS: It was another blow to a region recovering from record cold temperatures, icy roads and rolling blackouts. The restrictions led to a run on five-gallon jugs and cases of water at local stores. Now, the local water utility says it's lifting the usage restrictions tonight at 10:00 . But it isn't over yet. More cold weather is headed this way late tomorrow. Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right, George Lewis out in New Mexico tonight. George ,