Overwhelmed. Tired. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Cold. Thirsty. Hungry. Desperate. This last week has been hard here in Texas. An unprecedented and prolonged winter storm kicked our ass and we weren’t ready. Not at all. In a state full of Preppers, we weren’t prepped. In the energy capital of the world, millions were without power for days on end. . . not hundreds, not thousands, but MILLIONS of people with no electricity. In a state known for its Independence (the capital “I” was intentional), we discovered just how dependent we may actually be. Our gas stations ran out of gas. Our generators failed. Our grocery stores were full of nothing but empty shelves. We had no drinkable water, hell. . . we didn’t even have flushable water. People actually froze to death inside their homes. Houses burned down and people died in their cars when desperate people tried desperate measures to stay warm. We’re ready for the heat. Bring on the hurricanes. We can handle it. But please don’t give us freezing temperatures for days in a row. We’re not designed for this.
Today the temperatures are in the 70’s. Most people have power. Water is available. . . you might have to boil it, but it’s available. Gas stations and grocery stores are stocked and businesses are open again. For the moment, the crisis is over, and it’s time to reassess. What went wrong? How can we avoid this catastrophe in the future? What else are we not prepared for? Our elected officials have a lot to sort out, and we need to keep them on task. As for me and my house. . . I have a new checklist to store with my hurricane prep list; new readiness supplies to stock; new things to think about to keep my family safe. I heard the weather reports. I knew it was going to get very, very cold. But I didn’t think it would be this bad, and I was not adequately prepared. Next time. . . well, there’s a lot of things I will do differently.
But now that the worst is past us, I feel a huge sense of relief, gratitude, and humility. I still believe that we live in the greatest state in the nation and the greatest nation in the world. We Texans are sturdy stock and we come together to help each other during a crisis. I’ve seen countless examples of people offering help to their neighbors: fixing pipes, tearing out wet sheetrock, serving hot meals, sharing what they have whether it is a hot shower, a tote of water, a can of gas, a box of diapers, or a word of prayer. And in the midst of all of this tragedy, I am grateful. Things could have been worse for my family, and they WERE worse for many others. Among the things I am grateful for:
- we had water the whole week;
- we had food;
- we lost power, but we had gas for our stove, candles, lanterns, and lots and lots and lots of blankets and quilts;
- our cars had gas;
- a power surge caused our freezer to go out, but we were able to save the food;
- our pets were kept safe inside; AND MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL,
- our family stayed safe and survived.
Today the sun is shining. And to paraphrase JFK, the best time to fix the roof is while the sun is shining. Texas has some work to do. Our neighbors have some work to do. . . many are still without power, water, homes. Some have lost loved ones, and my heart goes out to them the most. But we are strong, and we have the shared experience of weathering other storms. And just as we do after hurricanes, after floods, after tornados, we will rebuild stronger and better than ever.