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'When in doubt, throw it out': Texans grapple with expenses after food, fuel and water issues arise after winter storm

"You cannot tell if your food is safe by smelling it. When in doubt, throw it out," said dietician Robin Plotkin.

PLANO, Texas — The effects of the February winter storm will likely be felt for days and weeks. 

Outside Grace Church in Plano, the City handed out water bottles for families that lost water or to help residents conserve water. The City said the majority of people in line had pipes burst in their homes.

"This is a blessing, this is truly a blessing. We're really, really shocked that this is happening. This has fallen out of place so quickly," said Stephanie Coleman, who lost power and water when a pipe burst in her home. 

The storm has many wanting what we took for granted: water, power, and food. 

This week, store shelves are bare and the lines outside some grocery stores are long. For many, food in fridges have gone bad because of lost power.

"It's heartbreaking and painful when you think about how much money you're throwing out when it comes to cleaning out your fridge," said Robin Plotkin, who is a registered dietician. 

She stresses that food-borne illness can be scary especially for the young, elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions.

"The first things I'm going to throw out are meats and eggs, these are highly perishable foods that will not survive," said Plotkin. 

Dairy products and leftovers can be added to that list of foot items on the highly perishable list.

The CDC says food inside a fridge without power can last four hours. A full freezer without power can last 48 hours and 24 hours if it's half-full, and that's if doors stay closed.

"You cannot tell if your food is safe by smelling it. When in doubt, throw it out," said Plotkin. 

Plotkin said fruits and vegetables have much better lasting power.

In some places, gas pumps were bare too, like at Buc-ees in Denton. The struggle to find gas in certain parts of North Texas was a head-scratcher for a lot of people. 

WFAA spoke with Michael Patman, who has been in the oil and gas industry four decades and currently works for MXP Operating L.L.C. out of Oklahoma.

"It's not a problem that it's not available, it's in distribution," said Patman.

Patman said gas inventory this week is actually up 3.9 million barrels. He said this mostly comes down to individual distribution channels and transport trucks operating in severe weather. 

Another element that could be playing a role in empty fuel pumps is Department of Transportation rules that govern truck drivers on the roads. Drivers have mandates that keep off the roads in the event of long driving stretches.

"It's taking a lot longer to make a trip due to slow speeds, closed roads etc.," said Patman.

This is a weather event for North Texas that we won't soon forget. It's lasted over several days and we're all still playing catch-up.