Bexar County Commissioner likens crisis response to ‘The Hunger Games’

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A Bexar County Commissioner is criticizing the joint city-county response, which she claims overlooked some unincorporated areas and suburban cities. She likened the situation to the survival movie,”The Hunger Games.”

Commissioner Trish DeBerry said at Tuesday’s meeting that she was disappointed in what appeared to be a severe lack of a coordinated effort.  She pointed out that  the original list of bottled water distribution sites did not include locations north of Loop 1604 until she lobbied for her constituents.

DeBerry said the city and county were supposed to be working together, but the city of San Antonio made a unilateral decision on the location of the distribution sites.

“For lack of a better word, it was not a coordinated effort. It was more like The Hunger Games,” DeBerry said. “It’s not right.”

She’s calling for an official audit into what happened between the city and the county at the Emergency Operations Center.  DeBerry told her colleagues there were some “big missings” associated with emergency preparedness and crisis communications response. She said the issue doesn’t just extend to the city limits.

“It extends all the way to the county line–north, south, east, and west. And the unincorporated areas, as well as the suburban cities who don’t have bonding capacity or the infrastructure probably to deal with this like we do,  were really kind of forgotten. We all, individually, had to advocate for our constituents.

Looking ahead, she also wants county representation on the CPS Energy board of trustees.  In the meantime, she’s recommending that county staff look into the possibility of bringing in an energy consultant.

“We were left out of the equation when it came to energy.  We don’t have any representation on the CPS (Energy) board, so I think we’ve  got to have somebody who’s advising the court related to energy because it’s going to continue to be an issue,” DeBerry said.

She also shared a personal story about her 90-year-old mother who resides in an assisted living facility. She said the power was out when her mother fell and broke her arm.  She had to crawl to a place where she could be found and was taken to the emergency room.

CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams told DeBerry she was sorry that her mother suffered through that ordeal.

Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said many residents in her precinct can barely afford to pay their utility bills, let alone extra fuel charges. She told Gold-Williams that the costs, which shot up by 16,000 percent last week, should not be passed on to CPS Energy customers.

Gold-Williams explained  that they’ll use every “tool in our toolbox” to lessen the burden on customers and “smooth over the cost.”

Commissioner Tommy Calvert blamed deregulation for the “just in time” pricing matrix, which allows the fuel price to escalate as high as the market will take it.  Calvert said it’s obscene.

“It makes no damn sense, so we need to fix it and not just let the oil barons get away with all the money,” said Calvert. “That was just a pirate’s game that happened over energy pricing.”

San Antonio Water System President Robert Puente told commissioners that water has been restored to its entire service, but some customers still have no running water because they live in apartments or homes with broken pipes.

Commissioners also approved a $5 million program to help residents pay for plumbing repairs.   The county will seek reimbursement from the federal government.





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