We recently had two snowstorms a month apart. Texas is not prepared for such storms or winter with four or five days of below-freezing temperatures. The snow is beautiful for a while—a winter wonderland—and the trees are beautiful dressed in crystal. But what comes after is not beautiful. People in the north probably call us sissies
I know what I experienced in these two winter storms was not that hard. I was very thankful. Some people had frozen pipes, trees on their houses or cars, and some even died because of no heat. The azalea and gardenia bushes were hit hard by the freezing temperatures. I noticed one gardenia has put out a few new leaves—two months after the last storm. I haven’t checked the other three. The azaleas are putting out new leaves.
I realized that I prefer being without air conditioning in the summer than to be without heat in a winter storm. One September when Hurricane Rita came, we were without power for a week in 100 degree plus temperatures. We managed all right. But without heat in below- freezing temperatures, it’s hard to stay warm. I managed at night by wearing sweats, adding about four blankets, two comforters, and my robe on top.
Nights without power are harder in the winter than in the summer. On a summer evening, you can go outside and visit with neighbors. In the winter you can’t get out and the nights are long. It is hard to read by lantern. How did Abe Lincoln manage? I went to bed by 8:30. I saw electric crews here from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. I was without power two days—I was lucky. A family up the street was without power for five days.
My neighbor gave me a small power pack for Christmas, which is for charging phones and other devices. It certainly came in handy, especially during the second storm. In this electronic age, power for our phones and other gadgets is essential.
I realized how precious water is and how wasteful we use it sometimes. The city water plant suffered damage from the freezing temperatures, and we were without water two days, and then had a boil water notice for a couple of days. Fortunately, I had filled enough gallon jugs, but there was not enough water to take a shower.
It is a good idea to keep frozen half-gallon or quart jugs in your freezer for power failures. It was cold enough in the garage, and with the frozen jugs, I didn’t need to buy ice for the coolers. It is also good to have frozen leftovers in your freezers. I ate soups, chicken and dressing, and chicken spaghetti during the power outage. Fortunately, I have a gas cooktop, so I was able to have hot drinks and food. My neighbor across the street has a gas log, so she made some containers out of foil to put near the log and heat food. We had to improvise.
I found out I didn’t have to use as many utensils to cook to conserve water. I ate from the pan to save a plate or bowl, a practice I didn’t continue after we had water, I wiped the dishes and pans with used paper towels or napkins before putting them in the dishwater to keep the water cleaner. (I keep partly used paper towels in a tissue box for jobs that don’t need a clean towel. Waste Not Want Not.) To save water. I suggest that you not scramble eggs to save water. I fried the eggs in a small amount of oil, then wiped the pan with a clean paper towel and covered it with a lid to use the next time.
I know that during hard times, people can be very caring. I heard about people helping and checking on neighbors during the storms. People called to check on me and I called people. Before the storm hit, one couple brought me some staples that didn’t have to be heated. Another couple invited me to their house because they had a generator. I almost went, but the roads were not safe, and I didn’t want anyone to have to come get me. When the ice began to melt, a couple picked me up and brought me to their house for a couple of hours to get warm. I brought a big pot of soup to share with them. When I got home, my power was back.
A couple of days later, on the first sunny day, a man named John, who I didn’t know, was next door overseeing some tree work. His tree man noticed that a big branch was dangling over my roof. John asked if I would like Ricky to cut it down. Of course, I did. Ricky came over to my yard and checked the backyard and saw several more dangling branches. He gave me a reasonable quote. The next morning, he was there and removed the branches and the crew stacked them by the curb. He told me that a couple of branches punctured the roof decking. John said he had some tarps, so his crew covered the damaged roof. John went into my attic and took pictures of two places where the decking splintered. He also found a leak around one of the vents. John advised me to go ahead and notify the insurance company, and I got a claim set up that day. John was really a good Samaritan. I called the roofer and in three days the roof was repaired.
The yard crew was able to come the day before the roofer and moved branches and limbs to the curb. When they were finished, I had two huge stacks: one about five feet tall and the other about seven feet tall.
In the past, I have been amazed at the power that something falling has, even something small. I have seen small branches stuck several inches in the dirt after storms and strong winds. This time there were many. There were some as small as a pencil stuck in about 3 inches. There were three that were about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. I couldn’t pull them out. When the yardman was here, I showed them to him. He kicked them a few times and then pulled them out. They had been driven in a little more than twelve inches. Just think what could happen if one were hit by one of those falling branches!
2020 will be remembered for the beginning of the pandemic which continues into 2021. In Texas 2021 will be remembered for the terrible winter storms and as well as the pandemic.