Snowmageddon 2021: Texas Edition

You may have noticed a screeching halt to content as of late. You may have heard that Snowmageddon 2021 hit Texas pretty hard. I live in central Texas where cooler temperatures are rare. In the winter, it is uncommon to get more than one or two “cold snaps” during the winter season that last 1-2 days each. However, we were hit with over a week of sub-freezing temperatures and winter weather that our great state is just not prepared for. If you live in the northern part of the country, or a country where cold weather is expected, your stores probably sell snow shovels and snow chains before the winter season hits. Walk into a central Texas store in the winter and you’ll still find bathing suits and MAYBE a small section with sweaters. It just doesn’t happen. Most of us don’t own cold-weather gear like snow boots, or heavy jackets.

The weather started turning sour on February 11th. It started with freezing rain thunderstorms. It was an awesome sight if I am being honest. In my hubris, I thought I could brave the 40-mile commute to work in my Ford Fiesta. I was wrong. I made it to the edge of town and a wreck I was not involved in forced the closing of the main bridge out of town. I had to turn around and head back home. While I was waiting in the traffic, I got to see lightning and hear thunder while freezing rain slammed my car. Mother Nature is awesome.

I began to panic regarding the state of our pantry. We had some food, but my instinct told me that the weather was eventually going to keep up homebound. My husband and I braved the weather on Friday the 12th and went grocery shopping. I can’t tell you how much this had saved us. We made it before the shelves were bare and the weather was too bad to venture out.

Then, the power outages started. We were blessed to have electricity all of Saturday as “rolling outages” began. However, the promise of “three-hour rotating outages” turned into eight hours or longer. Many of my neighbors went without power for stretches longer than 72 hours in sub-freezing temperatures. We all scrambled to keep heat in our homes and our pipes from bursting. Our power continued to go up and down, but we were blessed that our home stayed pretty warm throughout.

Then, the water outages started. Our water treatment facilities were freezing. Boil notices were issued. Not only did some homes lose power, they lost water pressure, and eventually ended up with frozen pipes.

The weather finally relented on Friday, the 19th. In pure Texas fashion, we were back in the 50s. We were all finally able to come out of our homes to survey the damage. Some still have no power. Some still have no water. Grocery stores are empty.

It never ceases to amaze me how Texans come together. Neighbors were offering their warm homes to complete strangers. A local BBQ food truck fired up their pits in the freezing temperatures and were offering free, hot meals to those who hadn’t had one. This guy was personally delivering hot plates in the ice/snow. There were so many stories of people taking packages of bottled water from outside closed convenience stores, but shoving money inside the door to pay for what they took. The owners often receiving more money than the supplies that were taken. Facebook became a place where people found supplies they needed from their neighbors. In one case, a diabetic was dangerously low on insulin due to the pharmacies being closed and was able to get in contact with someone who had extra to give. One of my community members ordered a hundred pizzas and was giving them out to families who needed a hot meal. Another one of my community members with a 4×4 Jeep was advertising free rides to first responders/medical staff to get safely to work. No looting. No rioting. Just neighbor helping neighbor.

If the decision ever comes, it will be hard for me to leave Texas. One of the main reasons is H-E-B grocery store. I don’t think there is a grocery store chain that does more for its customers. Despite the power outages, despite the weather, H-E-B employees braved the weather and opened up. I believe it was on Wednesday, we realized we needed more provisions. We had bought many groceries before the weather, but not a lot for meals that require no power. We braved the weather and there to greet us with smiles on their faces were H-E-B employees. They got us in the store in an organized fashion, checked us out quickly, and made sure all of us were navigating the ice safely. The young man that checked us out was not even from our store. He told us that he worked in the next town over and that it was the closest store he could get to. This young man couldn’t make it to his own H-E-B store, so he came to help ours out. I can’t stress how bad the roads were. We don’t have snow plows or even enough de-icing procedures for weather like this. What impressed me was H-E-B’s constant presence during this whole thing. I saw Facebook posts from their president constantly giving updates on the state of their warehouses and urging us not to worry, that groceries are coming. H-E-B will forever have my business. They always step up their game in these situations.

Today, it’s supposed to get close to 70 and I am thankful. My family came out of the other end with nothing more than a few fallen branches from one of our trees.

It was rough, though. It was a very stressful week and I am glad to get back to some version of normalcy for a while. I am thankful that I have so many positive people in my life. I’m glad to have friends that offer assistance instead of judgment. I’m glad to have friends that let you vent and not judge you for it. The world could use a lot less judgment and a lot more understanding and compassion.

Hopefully, I can get back to a normal posting schedule. I hope you are all doing well and safe!

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