Cupid Delivers Snowballs and Power Outages
Alex Buettgen ’22
Going into the long President’s Day weekend, Texans were expecting cold weather to roll in; however, Mother Nature must not have received any Valentines from the state of Texas this year and decided to freeze the state, causing chaos, shutting down the state for almost a week.
Brutally cold temperatures began Sunday, February 14 as Cupid’s snow flurries began to land in Houston and across Texas. At first, many people welcomed the beautiful white stuff as snow in Houston is rare. People posted videos and photos enjoying the novelty. Very quickly, though, the joy turned into panic as power started to disappear and millions of people were left unprepared for the frigid temperatures. Over 2.8 million Houstonians woke up on Monday, February 15 to a white winter wonderland and no power or heat. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of a historic week of brutally low temperatures, a city-wide shutdown, and one of the largest energy-related crises in history.
As winter storms Uri and Viola ravaged through the state, temperatures in Houston reached a 100-year record low of 15 degrees. Mother Nature also gave Texas its first ever historic wind chill warning, when temperatures in the Houston metro area felt as if there were in the single digits and an even sub-zero in Northern parts of the county. Stores and fast food restaurants, usually open 24 hours a day, were shuttered and the select stores that were open had lines circling the building and forcing shoppers to wait in freezing temperatures for a chance to scrape up some last minute essential items. When customers finally got inside, they witnessed some wild price increases as formally $4 cases of water skyrocketed to $18.99.
Unfortunately, my family was one of the families caught off guard by the power outage, as we suddenly found ourselves without power for 48-hours and were totally unprepared for the harsh winter conditions. With no electricity and no gas-stove, meals consisting of only PB&J sandwiches became old very quickly. “The best part of my day was when I was given two Vitamin-C gummies every morning because it was the only thing I had to eat besides peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for two days,” said my brother, freshman Andrew Buettgen.
While flowing fountains transformed into beautiful ice sculptures outside, the power outages forced families to get creative and adapt to the frigid temperatures inside their own homes. Many dressed in ski gear to stay warm, ate by candlelight, and used pool water to flush toilets. Rolling blackouts terrorized neighborhoods as entire streets, blocks and even full neighborhoods went completely dark for hours, sometimes even days. With the loss of heat, families bundled into their cars and used them as warming centers and a way to charge their slowing dying devices.
Towards the end of the week, as Houstonians slowly began to get flickers of light restored in their homes, a new series of videos started to be posted on apps like Tik Tok and Snapchat. The return of water pressure also brought bursting pipes throughout the state. Unfortunately, the pipes in homes of junior Holden Maples and sophomore Tucker Sheaffer as well as countless other Texans burst, causing water to rain down inside these homes.
“I heard water running and walked into my parents’ bedroom to see a waterfall coming down from the ceiling, “ Tucker said. “I immediately pulled out my phone and started filming while also yelling for my dad. First no power, then the pipes bursting. The whole situation was crazy.”
Many Texans have also been stuck in places people visited President’s Day vacations and were unable to return home. Junior Siler Fisher was stranded in New York City.
In an effort to mitigate stress on the state’s power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) planned rolling blackouts, which according to Bloomberg left approximately 15 million Texans with power and heat in frigid weather conditions. Some of the ERCOT board live outside Texas, a fact which has outraged many Texas residents.
Even thought Jesuit students received an unexpected week off from school, it is safe to say that they will not wish to have another free trial of living in Alaska.