Where have I been for the last week? Surviving our Texas snowpocalypse, that’s what! It was a crazy week but we survived.
Last week has been one for the books. You may wonder where I have been this past week. Well, I’ve been buried under snow and ice. Well, not literally, but for all intents and purposes it is true. Now this will sound so silly to people who live in Northern areas. Texas is such a warm state. Even our December days are often around 70 degrees. We have days that hit freezing, but we rarely get the precipitation that produces snow and even when we get some flakes it doesn’t always accumulate.
This Monday we had a severe winter storm blow through South Texas. Texas sees it’s share of severe weather but for us it is often hurricanes towards the end of summer and early Fall or it is in tornados around March and April. We are not prepared for Winter storms.
When the storm came in on Sunday night many of us were so excited. We almost never see snow here and when we do it is normally just a dusting that is gone by midday. This was quite different. We had icy precipitation first then 4-6” of snow depending on where you live.
The kids woke up to something they have never really seen here. White rooftops. Snowy trees, the street, and yard covered in a glistening white blanket of snow. It was gorgeous. Snow is always gorgeous before we drive through it and muddy it up, before it turns into a grey slushy.
We bundled the kids up like Ralphie out of Christmas story and let them have fun playing in the snow. My two year old was quite hesitant at first, but he had an absolute fit when we told them it was time to come inside. They had a blast throwing snowballs and throwing the snow up in the air. It was great. We made sure they got into a hot bath immediately.
Boom Goes the Power
Not long after our eventful play in the snow did we lose power. It is shocking how quickly a warm house cools. We have a gas range, so we were at least able to cook. But we weren’t able to get groceries before the storm as stores were over run. That night, temperatures dipped down to about 9º. We slept the kids with us in the room and we made sure we pulled out their 30º sleeping bags but it was frigid.
We were stuck with whatever charge we had on our phones and devices. Thank goodness I have a ton of candles and we had plenty of batteries for flashlights. We finished out Monday night by the fireplace.
Tuesday morning we ran out of wood for the fireplace. The cold was biting. Not all of our taps were working despite leaving them all dripping. We pulled out our water bob and filled it up, If you don’t have one of these, you should get one, They only cost around $30. It is a bladder that you put in your bath tub and fill it up for potable water in case you lose it. It holds about 100 gallons. Boy am I glad we did that! By the end of the day, we had lost all water.
That evening we couldn’t take the cold anymore. By 3 o’clock on Tuesday we had been without power for 24 hours and temperatures never rose above freezing. My hands were numb as I tried to fix lunch for us. We decided to venture out and see if we could get any supplies. Lots of roads and stretches of the highway were still closed. We found had to drive out of town to find a store with power. They were cleaned out of most essentials and had no firewood or anything like it. My brother gave us a few pieces that we had and we stopped to check in on my elderly parents who had also been trapped without electricity. In fact, all my family members had been without electricity.
There were rolling outages, but it was very odd. Some people never lost power. Some people appear to have regular power with small breaks, while other people like us, had no power at all for days at a time. It was very upsetting to see tons of businesses lit up with no one in them while homes were without power. USAA one of our largest businesses with a huge campus was fully energized with even their multistory parking lot blazing with lights while are house was 40º inside. Empty car dealerships all over the city were blaring with high-powered halogen lights over their parking lots when my elderly parents had no way to cook, no water, and had no heat source. We were told, our utilities were picking and choosing areas and places to energize.
I am so grateful we had things like powdered milk and dry eggs to cook. I’m grateful we have a gas range. I’ll tell you that we will be investing in a propane heater after this! A generator also sounds amazing. We got some power overnight and it was wonderful but it was gone before we woke up and by noon it was painfully frigid again. Once the house gets that cold, it just takes a long time to get it back up to temperature.
It quite interesting. One of the major problems that have caused this problem is that the wind turbines in Texas have frozen. Wind turbines aren’t very reliable in frigid weather and yet, some politicians would have us dependent upon them. The saddest part is that it appears that we could have run our power plants at full capacity. Our governor Greg Abbott, declared an emergency for the state and asked President Biden for an EPA waiver to operate power generation facilities to run at full power until the emergency ended. He denied it. The saddest part is that 47 people died as a result including a small child whose mobile home could not be heated.
My 91 year old grandfather and mentally challenged uncle were without heat all week as well. It is sad to see this kind of thing happen unnecessarily. Our losses were fairly small. It was bitterly cold in our house, but we all survived. We lost everything in our fridge including medications. We managed to keep the freezer fairly cold by packing ziplock bags of snow inside it to keep things frozen, but our fridge just didn’t stay cold enough.
Last night temperatures dropped again. We had another bout of freezing rain and sleet, icing over everything that had started to defrost. Temperatures won’t get above freezing today. I wonder how long it will take for us to get power and water again. How much longer for us to get food and groceries again, I don’t know. I imagine it will be a madhouse and then of course, COVID hasn’t stopped.
It’s been hard to be cut off from the world. We have only been turning on our devices here and there to touch base with family. Then we turn them off again. Roads are too icy to try and venture out. Even our steep driveway is covered with ice. This has been really hard for the kids. The numbing cold, the lack of light, no food or electronics. My youngest is too little to understand what has happened. But I am still incredibly proud of how well they have tried to adapt.
Power has been restored. Water is slowly coming through the taps but we are under a boil water notice for the next few days it seems. I’m just grateful to have heat again. It is slowly warming in the house.
It has been an interesting experience to say the least. It has certainly caused me to be grateful for things that I take for granted. Light, water, heat. Perhaps these things are necessary so we can appreciate the things we overlook everyday. I am especially grateful for people who reached out to me. People who offered their supplies, even their home to us if conditions worsened. Thank you so much! The most marvelous thing was that people I know who had the least were the ones who offered us the most.
Lots of restaurants and grocery stores appear to have lost food and so it will be a couple of weeks until things return to normal. Can I say that in 2021? Is there such a thing as normal anymore? If you were affected by the winter storm, I’d love to know how you are doing. This is one of my few posts that will read like a diary, I promise!