It looks like I’m one of the lucky ones.
After nearly a full week of bad weather, including blistering cold, record-setting temperatures and ankle-deep snow that did not go away after a day or two like we are used to in these parts, I have no horror stories to tell about the Great Winter Storm of 2021.
When the weather prognosticators began to talk about snow and ice and dangerously cold temperatures, I quickly got a message from a relative who lives out in the county to not even think about toughing it out at my house in town if I lost power.
“We have a generator hooked up and a gas fireplace and plenty of quilts and blankets,” the email stated, “and we are stocked with food and water.”
I emailed back with a “yes’m” and was heartily reassured that I had a warm bed and a steady source for meals if needed, and I breathed a fervent prayer I wouldn’t need to take them up on the offer. I was not looking forward to driving the icy highways and byways and long, twisty driveways of Lamar County twice a day should the lights go out in town. I was also not looking forward to sleeping with any of the large number of dogs my kin have at their house.
Then the same relative called me about a day later with the news that the state’s power providers were anticipating the need to conduct rolling blackouts to ease the strain on the power grid, and urging the people of Texas to reduce their power usage by turning their home heaters way down, dimming the lights, and stop using big appliances like hot water heaters, clothes dryers and dish washers.
Here in Texas, we are used to getting this kind of notice during the worst of the summer heat, when everyone — I mean, everyone — in the state is trying to stay cool, but such cold weather as we had last week is really uncommon, so most of us were a bit taken aback at this prospect.
I turned the thermostat down a few more degrees, turned lights off and postponed plans to do some laundry. It got a little cold at the house, but nothing I couldn’t handle with an additional pair of socks and some warm fuzzy booties, a sweater I dug out of the closet and a blanket out of the cedar chest. That extra blanket went with me to the bedroom when it was time to sleep and joined the heavy chenille bedspread and thermal blanket I was already sleeping under by then.
Turned out, I never lost power at my house. There wasn’t enough freezing rain to threaten the power lines and the rolling blackouts never occurred in my area, so I was a bit chilly but I was fine.
I never lost water at the house, either. I did notice the water pressure in the shower was a tad low for a while, but it didn’t last long. I have very carefully checked out my plumbing every few hours all this last week, looking at and feeling the floors and baseboards in the bathroom and the kitchen for leaks. I make it a point to stand very still and listen very intently for the sounds of water gurgling in the walls or underfoot.
So far so good.
I have seen the images of people who have suffered this last week or so with no heat and heard the lamentations of those with burst pipes and ruined furnishings and destroyed fittings in their home, and I am utterly relieved I wasn’t among them. My heart aches for everyone who has been hammered by these maladies, and I thank my lucky stars it passed it by — this time.
The only thing I’m worried about, now that it’s finally warming up, is finding and being able to afford gasoline for my car. Have you seen the prices posted at the pumps? Now that’s what I call a disaster.