Texas storms bring freezing temperatures affecting residents’ electrical, and water lines. Many deaths have occurred as a result, leaving Texans in vulnerable positions.
By Ally Sullivan
A winter storm occurs when wind coincides with precipitation, only forming during freezing temperatures. In the sunny state of Texas this kind of weather is not often heard of, and certainly not expected. Roughly ranging from February 13-17th, Texans battled the disastrous winter storms that battered their state and surrounding regions. One disastrous event led to another beginning to strand people and take lives of the unfortunate few.
The New York Times covered that the first wave came as a power grid failure, leaving millions without power and heat. The states power plants were not equipped to handle the freezing conditions, and natural gas was hit the hardest. It was previously reported that, “During the blackouts, the state's grid lost roughly five times as much power from natural gas as it did from wind. As demand hit a record high winter, the grid operator instructed utilities to begin controlled power outages to avoid long-term damage.”
Subsequently, as power was starting to be restored citizens began to find out that their taps had run dry, frozen pipes burst, the water treatment plants had been devastated. Generators became a necessity for many, but came with gruesome consequences for some. In Conroe, police reported that carbon monoxide gas let off from a generator killed an 11-year-old boy in his bed. However, the lives claimed by the winter storms did not all happen within a home.
The homeless population was greatly impacted although the extent of all the casualties is still unknown. Advocates of the homelessness crisis drove around Housten picking up homeless individuals and dropping them at shelters, although a displaced and unfortunate 6 lost their lives. According to Harris County Sheriff deputies, a 60 year-old man was found dead in his van under an overpass, they presumed he froze to death. The homelessness crisis stretches beyond just the winter storm, it only acted as a reminder of the millions of displaced and homeless people that exist in America today as part of a national epidemic.
As the storm persisted, the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts were unable to reach the storm areas, including Texas. Food became scarce, as delivery trucks were unable to reach stores to restock, including a shortage provided to food pantries. As Texas and the surrounding regions are beginning to thaw government action is being taken.
The unexpected disaster caused President Biden to sign a disaster declaration, helping the government to provide more aid to Texas. Government relief is flooding to Texas and other regions, but there are ways we can get involved too.
Specifically in Texas, the Austin Disaster Relief Network is accepting donations to help people with housing, gift cards and supplies for short-term needs, according to The New York Times. Front Steps, another Austin based organization, is helping with a blanket drive for the homeless. You can visit both of the websites to find out more about helping out.
For more information about the storms in Texas and ways to help, please visit the links below:
Austin Disaster Relief Network
Victoria Vidales '21,