It has been a couple weeks since we lost both power and water in Austin, TX in the longest stretch of freezing temperatures the state has seen in decades. Sufficient time has past now that I feel I can write something to about our experience of what transpired over those days (weeks for some people).
Monday, February 15th, all Texans arose to a snow covered neighborhood and unfortunately many to a cold house without power. We were some of the lucky ones and kept our power. Several of our family members realized their power wasn’t coming back in a “rolling” fashion as was advertised so they came to stay with us. That arrangement would only last for the next 24 hours, however, as we would soon be using our wood burning fireplace to keep warm like everyone else. As should have been predicted, once one critical system failed, it would continue to cascade to others like water supplies and grocery stores. Over the next days, working from home turned into surviving at home — transferring produce from dead fridges to snow packed ice chests, boiling water to cook with, filling pitchers with pool water for toilet use, using our cars to charge phones to keep in touch with loved ones. A couple things Texas cannot do well: build houses meant to be in freezing temps for more than a few hours and clearing roads that have even the slightest hint of frozen precipitation. We had access to a couple vehicles with all-wheel drive but no one had chains so many of the more remote areas of town where other family members lived were unreachable. The next days were spent following Austin Water, ERCOT, and Ted Cruz travel updates until all services were restored.
Compared to others, we were very lucky. Our biggest problems really only occurred when the water got turned back on. Leaking pipes in our house caused quite a bit of ceiling and insulation damage that needed to be repaired. I have since learned where our water cutoff valve is at the street and how to turn it off. Which leads to my nomination for the best purchase we have made post-Snowvid…a curb key!