Texas is a disaster right now. We’ve had Polar Vortec frigid temperatures for days on end, causing crazy high demands for heat. Of course. Except Texas isn’t prepared for this. Not.At.All. We’re used to super hot temps in the summer and rolling brownouts when we try to keep cool. But winter? No one could have expected this, even as meteorologists told us it was coming. We didn’t know the Texas power grid couldn’t handle the load as power plants froze up – and then water plants froze because they had no power, leaving millions of people without heat and/or water as the temps hovered in the teens.
There is no excuse for this, and even less for the way our governor and state leaders are blaming it on the Green New Deal with windmills going offline. Uh, hello? Yes, they went down – but they only account for a small portion of our state power. It’s a factor of greed with unregulated utilities choosing to opt for profits over weatherizing their power sources. And our ex-governor Rick Perry says Texans would suffer for days rather than submit to federal authority. Hey Rick, do you have power at your house?
I lived in New England for thirty years and I know how to prepare for a winter storm. Most Texans don’t have a clue. You fill the car with gas, pick up prescriptions, and stock up on bottled water and shelf-ready foods such as peanut butter with a grocery store run two days before the storm is due. You get out the snow shovels and ice melt, do laundry, and run the dishwasher so that everything that can be clean IS clean – in case you lose power. You fill bathtubs with water, watch the Weather Channel for the forecast, and get off the road as soon as you can. It’s time to hunker down – and to stay there until officials tell you it’s safe to be on the roads. I always brought work home, too, in case I wasn’t able to get out for a few days.
Maine did the best job of weather cleanup. They get lots of snow and know what to do with it, have plenty of trucks to plow and treat roads, and residents parked in lots off-street so plows could do their work. People are realistic about whether or not to drive. And people know how to prepare for a winter storm – they get lots of them, so they need to be practical so no one freaks out and wipes out the bread and milk sections of the store. Businesses mostly recognized that employees needed to travel safely and made closing/opening decisions accordingly.
Boston didn’t do as good a job as Maine. The roads were a lot worse, people didn’t pay attention to “no parking” rules, and public transporation on the T was often a mess. Universities (and there were many in Boston) almost never closed for weather because hey, the students lived on campus and who cared if the staff had problems getting in? But we had snow shovels and boots and knew how to plan, though the milk and bread sections did get empty.
New Haven was terrible for a place that saw a lot of winter. My town of Hamden was much better at plowing and treating roads; you could tell when you crossed the town line into New Haven because the roads were bad. Parking lots and sidewalks, theoretically treated, were a mess. But we rarely lost power, had lots of snow gear for ourselves and our vehicles (I had 3 shovels and many, many gloves and hats). We wiped out milk and bread and wine, too. But most of us, at least after one winter there, had basics in the pantry and closet and were ready.
People in Texas were not ready at all. They expected that things would warm up in a day or two and all would be back to normal. Ah, no. There was ice everywhere. Power was out at stores if you could even get to them. Medical equipment that depends on electricity failed, putting lives at risk. But no one could really prepare for days of no power, no heat, and no water. It was too damned cold – and it will happen again. The climate is changing and weather patterns are changing with it. I do not trust the Texas power infrastructure to put people’s lives over profits.