In February 2021 Texas temperatures plunged into the single digits. This historic freeze also brought an ice storm. Such frigid weather is far from normal in the Lone Star State. Usually we’re enjoying paper-whites blooming and planning our spring garden. We don’t have snow plows standing by and our homes are not designed for extreme cold. Rather we typically worry more about the heat!
Over 700 died during this freeze when the power grid nearly failed. The only way to keep it operating was to have blackouts and rolling blackouts. A tremendous amount of bad decisions at numerous levels caused this weather event to be far worse than it should have been. I could go on and on about what those bad decisions and mistakes were, but I want to focus on my own experience.
Fortunately, I’m pretty much a “homebody” and don’t go out much. I usually have plenty of food on hand since I only shop every couple of weeks.
I also believe in being as self-sufficient as possible. I have a propane stove that works just fine with no power as well as a few other items that were helpful. As noted earlier, being cold is not usually an issue here.
I have a fireplace and had some firewood. The power was out for 14 hours and during that time the house got pretty chilly, but the fireplace saved the day. When the rolling blackouts started, they were on a schedule so when the power was on you ran the heater and anything else, then braced for the next outage.
At one point there was only a trickle of running water. I live in a community that comprises several vacation homes. Any of these empty homes that hadn’t turned off their water at the meter had ruptured pipes. Some who were home also had ruptured pipes that flooded their entire home. Plumbing here is often in the ceiling and not insulated for such extreme temperatures.
I had an on-demand water heater mounted on the outside of my house. My efforts to protect it were vain with no power. Thus, the pipes froze and ruptured. A few days later when things started to thaw out, I went out my backdoor to take something to the trash can and found a mini-Niagara Falls spewing from it.
I hightailed it to the meter to turn it off and was lucky enough to have my plumber driving by at the time. Long story short, it took three weeks to get a new water heater installed. Needless to say, that was 3 weeks without running hot water. Taking sponge baths courtesy of a spaghetti pot with water heated on my propane stove (thank heaven for that!) was definitely different that my usual warm, cozy showers.
There was actually a similar freeze this past February, but not as severe. The power stayed on and my new water heater, which has a built-in heater, survived. I learned a lot during that week in 2021. I hope to think I’m better prepared now.
However, it was a sobering thought that there are many people in the USA who live with no heat and no running water as a matter of course. The majority of these people live on Indian Reservations. If there’s an ethnic group in this country who has been forgotten it’s the indigenous people who occupied this great land for millennia before the white man “discovered” it. Other races have a variety of valid complaints, but none compare to what was done to Native Americans.
I’m not going to enumerate what those offenses were other than the obvious ones: stealing their land and attempted genocide. If you can find it in your heart to help these people, this blog from a few years ago lists 20+ ways you can make a difference.
The entire month of November is Native American Heritage Month. The point of these designations is to highlight something that deserves attention coupled with an opportunity to learn more. One way to learn more about Native American culture, or more specifically the Northern Cheyenne, is to read our multi-award winning books in the Dead Horse Canyon saga!
The most gratifying review we ever received was from Asher Syed on behalf of Readers’ Favorite who gave us 5-stars and said, “The depth of ethnology packed into both novels is meticulously researched and beautifully detailed. Fox and Risingsun are a dream team with this saga.”