It’s been a challenging week in Texas, filled with snow, ice, record-low temperatures, power outages, abundance, scarcity, and uncertainty. The worst of it is over, but we’re far from back to normal. Texas doesn’t usually get weather like this — it seems to happen every 5 years or so — but this time was different. People in other parts of the country may not understand why we’re struggling. Maybe it was the perfect storm, or perhaps we just weren’t prepared for it. Either way, try walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.
The good news is that Texans are resilient. We’re also friendly and willing to help out friends, neighbors, and strangers.
Snow, ice, and record-low temperatures
The average February temperature in Arlington is 59 degrees. We typically have mild winters and seldom get snow. There’s probably been more snow this week than the last five years combined. It started last Saturday. The high was 36 degrees. (We haven’t gotten that warm since then, although yesterday it hit 40.)
The snow started on Saturday and increased by Sunday. Our electricity went out Sunday night while we were asleep. We had heard rumors of possible “rolling blackouts” and thought the electricity would be back on within a couple of hours. It wasn’t. We stayed in bed or under a pile of blankets for most of the day, dressed in layers, trying to keep warm. After the electricity was out for 12 hours, we realized it wasn’t coming on again soon. It dropped to 47 degrees in the house. With nightfall approaching, we knew it would get even colder. Luckily, my parents live about 10 miles away, and they had power. They offered us a place to stay, and we were grateful to accept it.
Thankful that we had somewhere to go
We packed necessities for the night, using candles and battery-powered lanterns for light. Getting the car ready and packed wasn’t easy in the dark, snow, and cold weather. We had to take our three cats with us, which added to the stress. The roads were covered in snow at this point, which made traveling treacherous. We made it there safe, though.
After staying Monday night at my parent’s house, we carefully returned home Tuesday to check on things. We were thankful that the power was on. Unfortunately, it went out soon after we got there. That was deflating. Not knowing if or when it would come back on, we decided to retreat to my parent’s house.
We ended up staying there three nights, Monday through Wednesday, although it felt longer than that. (It’s humbling as an adult to sleep in the bedroom that you slept in as a kid.) By Thursday, conditions started to improve. We came back home and checked on the house. The electricity was on, and we had running water — although the water pressure still isn’t back to normal yet. We went back to my parent’s house, packed our stuff and the cats, loaded the car, and finally came home. Then, of course, we had to unpack the car in the cold and snow and get things situated inside.
I’ve never had to leave my house like that. I felt like an evacuee and sympathize with natural-disaster victims.
A tough week for mental health
It’s been a long, long week and a tough time for mental health. Worry, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, tiredness, disruption, frustration — it all adds up. Not eating, sleeping, or exercising enough have also had an impact. Normalcy and routines will receive a warm welcome!
Texas power grid
Once this is all over, the debate will likely involve the Texas power grid. Some criticize the officials for not doing enough, while the officials say they did everything possible to avoid a complete blackout. Maybe it’s a combination of both. The planned “rolling blackouts” were also questionable — some people lost power for hours or even days, while others never lost power at all. Instead of finger-pointing, we need to get to the root cause and figure out how to fix it.
Supplies, logistics, and basic infrastructure
Snow-covered and icy roads, unsafe travel conditions, and power outages have also made getting food and supplies difficult. Some store shelves are decimated, with delivery trucks not being able to make deliveries. Demand is heavier than the supply. Certain items are in strong demand, which reminds me of the early days of the pandemic.
Now, of course, as things begin the thaw out, new problems arise. Water scarcity is a new issue: busted pipes, frozen resources, and the other collateral damage from a week of brutal weather. For now, much of North Texas is supposed to boil tap water before drinking it to ensure it’s safe. There isn’t enough water pressure right now at our house to take a shower or wash a load of clothes. Even flushing the toilet is a challenge. We’re lucky there hasn’t been a water leak in our house. Some of our neighbors are dealing with a flooded house on top of everything else.
Trash pick-up for the entire city was canceled this week due to the road conditions, so we haven’t been able to take out the trash either.
“First World Problems,” indeed, and I feel guilty for feeling entitled. Many people around the world would be grateful if these were their biggest problems.
Warmer weather ahead
A few times this week, the temperature got down to the teens or single digits. Early Tuesday morning, it was zero degrees. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life. I’m used to having 100 degree days in summer. But single digits in the winter? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the temperature get that low.
Some of the snow and ice have started to melt with the abundant sunshine. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, at least for this part of Texas. Warmer weather is here, and more is on the way, though, with Sunday supposedly getting up to 55 degrees. Next Wednesday is supposed to be 70 degrees — a far cry from a couple of days ago. I’m going outside that day and rubbing sunshine all over me!
We’re safe, reasonably warm, and emerged from all this with only a few minor inconveniences. It could have been much worse. Others didn’t have it nearly as good as we did. It’s a reminder to be thankful for what you have and for those who lend a helping hand.
Now that Texas has had a season’s worth of winter weather in a single week, I’m ready for spring and summer. I don’t like cold weather. The blazing hot Texas summer can’t get here fast enough!
Post by Jason S. Sullivan, 02-20-21