Life and Death in the Texas Snowpocalypse

It doesn’t look like a dangerous amount of snow – especially to someone who grew up in New York like me – but this is Texas. Even if one knows how to drive in snow, one knows it’s not worth the risk to drive on the same roads with those who don’t. The Dallas,Texas pileup video below tragically illustrates the danger of traveling in Texas during winter storms. It involved about 100 vehicles, five people died and over 60 were sent to hospitals. It’s amazing to me that the death toll wasn’t higher.

February delivered two blows to our family in Texas. At the beginning of the month word came that my husband’s brother was dying from cancer – he himself had only learned of the diagnosis for less than a week. Less than 24 hours later he passed away. Years ago a friend, who has also passed on, said to me that it seems to us some people just aren’t supposed to die and that’s why it’s so much harder when they die. My brother-in-law was one of those people. It’s only been a little more than a month since he’s been gone, but we are still in shock over it. His strength and good heart will never be forgotten by those who knew him.

The second blow came in the form of the Texas Snowpocalypse of 2021. What was supposed to be a one day extreme cold weather event, turned into a five day nightmare (longer for some people). It’s been reported that Texas was within 5 minutes of losing its entire grid. There is speculation that an poor planning and reliance on green energy were the cause.

I am not opposed to green energy and certainly the grid does not care whether its fed traditional fossil fuels or newer green energy sources. However, there is simply no good excuse for what occurred except extreme incompetence because this is Texas, the richest energy state in the union. I am sure there will be much more to be said about how it occurred and who is at fault. But in the end, what happened is less important than the fact that it did happen. It is another reminder that one needs to be prepared for emergency events and not depend on the government to come to the rescue during a disaster. We were lucky – if the grid had completely failed – we might still be dealing with outages.

We made it through this disaster – with frozen pipes and rolling blackouts – relatively easily. I always have a well stocked pantry and some emergency supplies. The pipes froze, but did not burst (turns out we forgot to open a drip on one crucial outside faucet). We never lost heat for more than a few hours, so we were not cold. I also had some Mylar blankets if it had gotten very cold, but not much else. Texas is not known for temperatures in the single digits, so I did not have much to else to ease the cold if the electricity had been out much longer. I have an electric hand warmer, but I wish I had stocked up on these Hothand chemical hand warmers that are standard items in emergency preparedness lists in northern states like my former home in New York. The snow was a small blessing as it could be melted to flush toilets, but I was chagrined that I wasn’t better prepared for the situation that we were in.

I have lived in Texas for over 30 years. The first disaster I experienced here was the October flood of 1998. We lived on the banks of the Guadalupe River at that time and watched the water rise halfway up our 50 foot bank over the course of a single day. I watched houses, cars, barns, and all kinds of debris float past our home. I will never, ever forget the roar of the water. It was both hypnotic and terrifying. We were never in real danger, but it was the first time I had ever been so close to this kind of destruction that Mother Nature periodically serves up in this part of the country. It was then that I realized why people are paralyzed during a disaster. Unless you’ve been through a disaster or are trained for one your brain has a hard time processing what is happening. It’s not only necessary to have supplies on hand, but a list of “what to do” for different types of disasters could save you if you find you cannot think clearly.

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been reevaluating our emergency supplies and preparations. When we were younger, my husband and I did not worry so much about the cold or the heat during power outages. Our bodies were healthy and able to adapt. But, now as are senior citizens, I’m thinking we should invest in a generator. If Texas can’t manage its grid, we really need to have a backup.

We are always encouraged by local authorities to have seven days of food and water on hand. And after this last emergency, I noticed a lot of Texans renewing their efforts to stock up. The grocery stores have still not completely caught up as of this writing. This is also a new development that began with Covid last year. Grocery stores are struggling to keep up with demand much longer than in years past.

My last post was over a month ago as I have been dealing with these difficult events. That post, The New Year: When Does It Really Begin? , seems particularly prescient now. I wrote about the importance of easing into a new year, especially if one is facing unexpected or difficult times. You cannot be prepared for every situation, but you should have some basic supplies that will help in most of the worst situations. Many Texans are Preppers and have anywhere from a week to a year’s supply of food on hand. I am not sure how practical that is in the extreme heat that we get here, but I have been rethinking my own emergency readiness. Also, there are many new products out there since I first began emergency preparations and I am researching many of them.

In my next post, I will be listing some of the resources I’ve come across that you might consider having on hand during an emergency. As you know, I am already a slow writer and so it may take a few more weeks to get that list in order as I am working it out. I thank you in advance for your patience.

I will return soon, God willing. 🙂