McDade man almost runs out of oxygen supply during storm power outage

Growing up in McDade, Texas, Douglas Farris was taught how to live off the land.

He still does – growing everything from tomatoes to cantaloupe. But nowadays, an oxygen tank is always in tow.

"I even get a bottle when I'm going to cut my grass," said Farris. "I'll put it on the lawn mower with me."

The tanks are for mobile use. When he’s inside or on his porch, he uses an oxygen concentrator that is connected to a power source via a long cord.

"Customers like me, I can't afford to have my electric cut-off," he said. "No electric, no oxygen." 

This week, he woke up not breathing due to a storm-caused power outage. He was able to quickly grab a nearby oxygen tank.

"Every time we get a bad thunderstorm, we lose power," he said. "It's getting kind of old." 


The outage lasted roughly 48 hours. By the time the power came back on, he had three full tanks left. Each tank will last him about four hours.

"I'm having a hard time getting a breath," said Farris, describing what it feels like to be off oxygen. "I'll start getting lightheaded. And if I don't get on oxygen pretty quick, then I could die from it."

According to Oncor, this week's power outage was vegetation-related.

"My question to Oncor would be, why aren’t they going around where all their electric lines are and cutting the trees down that are close enough to the electric line, so that if a storm breaks a limb or knocks a tree over, that it won't hit them?" said Farris.

FOX 7 Austin has reached out to Oncor to learn more about its vegetation management system in McDade.

"Oncor conducts routine tree pruning, on a rotating schedule, to ensure reliability across our entire service area," a spokesperson told FOX 7. "Our vegetation management plan is reviewed regularly, and trimming or maintenance projects are scheduled based on various factors, such as growth history."

Oncor also has a Chronic Condition and Critical Care program. Click here to learn more about qualifications.