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The 2021 Texas Winter Storm: From the Perspective of My Family

Snow in Texas is kind-of rare, especially if you live in or near “Central” Texas — the area around Houston, Dallas-Forth Worth, and San Antonio. The last time I remember enjoying the snow was when I was in elementary school, third or fourth grade, and we had a massive cold front that came our way. There was so much snow and ice built up; we were off from school for a few days. Since then, there have been a few minor instances of snow, ice, or even sleet — but nothing at all like what Texas experienced recently. 

I think I called my parents on the 12th of February when they told me how they would be getting a little snow in the next couple of days. I also remember asking if it would be the amount of snow we would usually see every winter — which was barely anything at all — or if it was going to be much more. They said it was supposed to be more than what usually happened, but they were unsure of how much. 

Fast forward a couple of days, I woke up to a call from my mom showing me our neighborhood and all the snow that had come down. All seemed to be well and routine; that night, they went to bed thinking they would enjoy the snow similar to the way they had the previous day.

However, that was far from the case; in the middle of the night, the power went out, and the temperature dropped completely. They woke up confused and thought the power only went out for them, but because it was the middle of the night and they couldn’t really do anything, they got a couple of extra blankets and went back to sleep, hoping everything would work out in the morning.

Things didn’t change in the morning, but at least they had the daylight streaming in from the windows. A few hours later, one of our neighbors came over and asked if everything was fine and gave them a rundown of what the rest of the neighborhood was experiencing (no one else had power, and they couldn’t really do anything either). He just told my parents that everyone was waiting to see what would happen and hoped the power would come back on in the next few hours. It took almost twelve hours for the power to come back on, and just as quickly as it came, it left — so my parents weren’t really prepared to charge their devices or make food. Then, in the middle of the night, it came back randomly, but they spent most of that time figuring out what to do and how to manage to work around the power coming in and out. 

Slowly they developed a new normal, one that didn’t include a heat source or electricity. Over the next few days, when the power would come back for an hour or two at a time, my parents would rush to get their work done, shower, and cook. During this time, my brother and I had no communication with my parents, which was a little weird because we try to talk at least once a day, but I didn’t think much of it because I assumed that they were busy and would call when they were free. They called me one day and told me about everything that was happening and what they were doing to try and bypass the lack of electricity. 

Finally, after five days, the power came back, and all was seemingly normal. That was until the water pipes above my bedroom exploded, a portion of the ceiling fell, and water flooded a considerable portion of my room. Nearly everything touching the ground was ruined — especially the carpet. My parents called in a handyman to figure out the next steps because they were in no way, shape, or form prepared for this. He taught them how to shut off the water supply in our home if anything like that happened again. Thankfully because of what he taught them, they were able to prevent further damage to our home. 

Since many Texas cities stopped the water supply, there was no longer any running water. They had to turn to collecting the snow from outside to use as a water supply. After a day of doing this, they started looking for drinking water in stores and online, but everywhere was out of stock as one would expect. 

They had planned to go to a hotel, but almost all of the rooms were booked near them. My parents didn’t want to travel far because of the snow and ice on the roads, and because they did not want to be too far away from our home in case anything else bad happened. During this time, they only ate what was in the freezer because they couldn’t really make anything new without water to cook or even clean dishes. For almost another week, there was no running water in our house. Thankfully, our city opened up its parks and recreation center and allowed people reserve spots to take showers; they also gave out cases of water. 

My parents were able to create a fix for our water pipes so that (hopefully) nothing else bad happens. There are still many problems that need to be looked at, but I am very thankful that my parents are healthy and safe and nothing too severe occurred.

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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