Kerrie Wolfson lost power at her Northeast Dallas home during Sunday afternoon’s powerful storms.
The storm that killed one and injured five others also damaged neighborhoods and left thousands of Dallasites, like Wolfson, without power. More than 205,000 Dallas County customers were still affected as of Monday at noon, along with about 13,000 in Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties.
“It’s just terrible,” Wolfson said. “I was driving around and saw power lines that were cracked and bent. I have a feeling that they will have to rebuild all of them.”
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Oncor estimated some customers could be without power for several days and had requested mutual aid from other parts of the country to help restore service.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted Monday that crews from Houston, Alabama and Mississippi would be working alongside Dallas crews to restore power throughout the county.
Wolfson said the delay has been longer than she expected, and she’s worried that most of the food in her refrigerator has gone bad.
“I’m curious about typical stuff, like frozen hamburger meat, chicken and almond milk,” she said. “I would hate to have to throw all of that food out.”
That’s why she asked Curious Texas: How long can stuff remain in my refrigerator and freezer before it goes bad?
Wolfson’s question is part of Curious Texas, an ongoing project from The Dallas Morning News that invites you to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.
You can send us your Curious Texas questions by texting “DMN” to 214-817-3868. Follow the prompts and introduce yourself to us, share your story or questions, and we’ll text you with information as we report the story.
The power outages have affected both individual homes and several Dallas businesses. Several restaurants, including El Fenix in Casa Linda, Meso Maya at Preston-Forest and Village Burger Bar on Inwood Road near Forest Lane, remain closed until further notice.
Mot Hai Ba chef-owner Peja Krstic told Guide Live he expected to lose about 80 percent of his food, and Jimmy Park, chef and owner of Nori Handroll Bar in Deep Ellum, said he was throwing away thousands of dollars of food after their walk-in cooler stopped working.
Your fridge helps slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause illness, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website. This bacteria typically grows between 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so an ideal temperature for your refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees.
A freezer should be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food that has gone bad doesn’t always look or taste bad.
Pathogenic bacteria grows on food when the temperature is between the 40 degree to 140 degree sweet spot.
But keeping food cool doesn’t prevent it from spoiling either, since spoilage bacteria can grow at low refrigerator temperatures. You’ll be able to tell this food has not kept well based on bad tastes and bad smells, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends keeping your refrigerator and freezer doors closed for as long as possible to maintain cold temperatures. Food stored in the refrigerator will keep in cold temperatures below 40 degrees for about four hours if it is unopened, so Wolfson will have to throw away her milk, eggs and meat and any other perishable foods in her refrigerator.
A full freezer will keep food fresh for approximately 48 hours, and a half-full freezer will keep for half of that time if the door remains closed.
Dallasites can use dry or block ice to keep their refrigerator cold for longer periods of time. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends using 50 pounds of dry ice to keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.
Residents should also keep track of what food they throw out and check their insurance policy to see if it can be included in a claim related to Sunday’s storms.