Cover Photo: A burnt house in East Austin where three people lost their lives trying to keep warm during the February winter storm
By Brian Martel
The capitalist-caused winter disaster killed over 194 people in Texas, nearly double the state government’s official death count estimate, according to a new investigation by the ruling-class newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.
The capitalist state’s role in causing the disaster following the winter storm has been clear, and the slow confirmation of deaths is a continuation of the state’s attempts to hide its crimes against the people. Until the end of March, the state’s official number of deaths was at 57, when it was increased to 111. On April 6, after The Chronicle released its report, the state’s total was raised to 125.
The Chronicle‘s investigation was based on a tally of all coroner reports citing the winter storm as cause of death. The report lists causes of death mostly as hypothermia, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning, failed medical devices, fires, car accidents, and more. Harris County alone suffered 66 deaths, at least 46 being due to exposure to cold. Many deaths already attributed to the storm have not been added to the state’s official account.
The updated numbers make the winter storm one of the deadliest in Texas history and nearly double the death toll due to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The death toll of Hurricane Katrina in 2004, another weather event turned disaster due to capitalist neglect, has similarly been minimized by the state. Their official count is 1,200 dead, but most independent estimates place it at over 1,800.
The state’s official casualty counts for these events are intentionally the lowest possible and unofficial estimates also suffer from poor reporting and a lack of clear documentation. The capitalist ruling class encourages unclear and chaotic death reporting from disasters, yet are sure to emphasize the monetary damages, as they are more concerned with their own profits than the workers who produce those profits. This is because the ruling class’ goal is not to learn from these events or to help people, but to move on, avoid responsibility, and proceed with its normal state of exploitation and oppression.
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