No running water or electricity: Hawaii residents, former residents struggle through unprecedented winter storm in Texas

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — At least 46 people have died from the winter storm that is causing problems from Oregon to New England, but Texas still remains the hardest-hit state. Former Hawaii residents who now live in the Lone Star State are struggling with the winter catastrophe.

Thursday, Feb. 18, marks day four of a record-breaking cold spell. Power outages that left more than 3 million people without power and heat on Wednesday were brought down to half a million on Thursday.

Texas officials are now warning residents to prepare for what they’re calling “disasters within a disaster,” meaning long lines at grocery stores, food banks and water distribution sites.

The unusual and extreme cold temperatures in the Houston metropolitan area caused pipes to burst in former Honolulu resident Jon Cabino’s apartment building. He is using buckets to catch and sop up the water that is leaking into his home.

Roughly 200 miles away from Houston, Waipahu resident Maricelle Heather Redona-Manzano has been stuck in San Antonio. She was in Texas to compete in the Mrs. United States pageant as the Hawaii representative on Valentine’s Day.

Redona-Manzano was supposed to fly back to Hawaii on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“According to the airport, they’re not equipped to de-ice anything,” explained Redona-Manzano. “They can’t de-ice the planes, they don’t have salt for the roads. There’s really no way planes can safely take off.”

The San Antonio hotel she is staying at is currently running on generators, so Redona-Manzano has electricity. She said, she has not had running water in days, however.

“It’s a little gross,” Redona-Manzano said. “We haven’t showered since at least Monday. Some of the pageant girls haven’t showered since Sunday after the pageant. We lost running water on Monday morning. We are washing ourselves with baby wipes right now.”

About 300 miles away from Maricelle are Jennelle and Isiah Obrero-Zablan, who are originally from Waipahu and Lana’i.

The couple and their 2 young sons moved from Hawaii to the Dallas area in 2019. “(The cold feels like you’re inside) a factory freezer without jackets,” said Isiah.

Folks in Texas are dealing with rolling power outages.

“The power would go on for like an hour, then off for 10 years. It was just a repeated pattern for several days. I guess the biggest adjustment was the heater was at 1 degree. At one point, we woke up and it was freezing.”

Jennelle is currently seven months pregnant.

“Everything is kind of just occupying my mind with making sure the household is okay, making sure we’re doing what we need to tend to the kids,” she said.

KHON2 Anchor Howard Dashefsky’s daughter Briana also lives in the Dallas area.

“The scary part of it now is everything is melting, but then freezing all over again. So now the roads and sidewalks are pure ice. The past few days, I’ve been fine walking my dog. But today I was slipping all over the place,” said Briana.

“Texas was not built to have anything like this,” Briana said. “Our homes don’t have the insulation that you would find in a Colorado house or somewhere that does get this temperature usually. And that’s why a lot of people’s pipes are breaking. Electricity is just going in and out, rolling blackouts. So it’s really hectic.”

She says Texans’ warm generosity during this winter catastrophe has helped thaw out the stress.

“Everyone’s who’s able to drive with four wheel drive through the ice have been driving around handing out water and hot meals to families who can’t get out to drive and get that themselves,” she said.

She likens it to the islands famed “aloha spirit.”

“Especially coming from Hawaii, it’s something I truly appreciate and feel here in Texas, for sure,” Briana said.

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