Galveston County asks for truck to hold bodies of winter storm victims

Mayra Moreno Image
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Woman's brother dies amid frigid temps in Galveston Co.
She said her brother had no known health issues. The farmhouse their mother left them is just outside Santa Fe and had been without electricity and heat for almost two days.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston County officials said Tuesday they are requesting a refrigerated truck to deal with a surge in cold weather deaths.

Multiple deaths related to the historic winter storm have been reported in Galveston County, pending confirmation by the medical examiner's office.

County Judge Mark Henry told Eyewitness News the truck would help increase capacity at the medical examiner's office as residents brace for yet another winter storm.

"We were notified of an emergency request about lunchtime today that the medical examiner needed a capacity of at least 20 and as many as 50, in addition to the normal storage," Henry said.

The judge also said the medical examiner's office covers several counties, so it could take some time to confirm where all the victims lived.

"We believe these (victims) could be Galveston County residents, but we can't confirm that even because they might be from Brazoria County."

A Winter Storm Warning will go into effect at 6 p.m. Tuesday, bringing the threat of more freezing rain into Galveston County. Another hard freeze is expected to follow Thursday night.

Earlier Tuesday, Judge Henry expressed frustration as thousands across the county were forced to shelter from chilly temperatures without power.

In a statement posted to Twitter from the Office of Emergency Management in League City, Henry said he was asked Sunday night to communicate the need for rolling blackouts that extended far beyond expectations.

"What we quickly found out was they weren't rolling at all," Henry said. "They went off and they have stayed off for as much as 48 hours at this point and counting. This is unacceptable."

The county judge directed responsibility for the failure of Texas' power grid at the Energy Reliability Council of Texas, which he said "has proven to be anything but reliable."

"It's not like they didn't know this was coming," Henry said. "The forecast said the ice storm was in the forecast for at least a week prior to the event."

Judge Henry said his office is communicating with energy providers on the needs of Galveston County residents, and would call on Austin to investigate a possible overhaul of the state's electric plan as a result of this week's outages.