Katy mom testifies to PUC to help keep medically vulnerable daughter safe during a disaster

As millions of Texans lost power and water during last year’s February freeze, for some, it became a matter of life and death. On Tuesday, the Public Utility Commission held a hearing on a proposed rule that could help save the most vulnerable residents in another disaster. 

The ruling would establish some requirements to help those who are medically dependent on electricity during an emergency. 


Lora Taylor recalls the terrifying moments during last year’s freeze when her home in Katy lost power and water for several days. 

"It's life-threatening when your next breath depends upon whether or not you have electricity," Taylor said. 

Her special-needs daughter, 40-year-old Julie, suffers from a life-threatening seizure condition and relies on battery-operated machines for breathing and treatment.  

"I had no idea that the system was as poorly designed as it was. I had no idea that it was possible for us to be within four minutes of the entire grid collapsing," Taylor said. 

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Taylor thought she had done all the necessary preparations to ensure Julie was safe during a disaster, but as it turns out, it wasn’t enough. 

"I was so angry because I already had my daughter on the critical care list with the Public Utilities Commission and I already had her on the State of Texas emergency assistance registry, so I thought, incorrectly, that there was a plan in place," Taylor said. 

On Tuesday, Taylor, along with dozens of other Texans whose loved one have similar special needs, provided public testimony during a PUC hearing.

The proposed ruling would set certain requirements for those who medically rely on electricity to survive.

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Valerie Dodgett testified on behalf of her 20-year-old daughter Allison. 

"Allison is on a ventilator, O2, suction machine, a vest machine, a cough assist, nebulizer, hospital bed, along with other supplies and equipment. In the summer, her bills run around $400 to $700 a month from July to August. How do we choose between meds, therapies, supplies, or getting a generator?" Dodgett said. 

"I would hope that we can keep the electricity of those folks whose life depended on it all the time. And I would hope that they could also have some kind of a contingency plan," Taylor said. 


Tuesday’s public testimony will now be reviewed by commissioners.

The PUC says there’s no set time-frame for consideration or adoption of the proposed ruling.