Here's how it went down:
2/15/21 《Monday》The daughter and I are caught in the East Texas winter wonderland in the Free State of Van Zandt.
Electricity started rolling blackouts at 2:00 AM. At 5:27 AM, power went out completely. Daughter and I are currently living in a trailer in an RV Park. We lost water yesterday (all the lines are frozen), but we have sufficient water to survive. What we lack is heat. We have a propane-fueled heater, but it requires electricity to ignite. We have two space heaters, and they are sufficient to keep our space warm, but they require electricity. We have no electricity, and our local power co-op tells us that the State of Texas has ordered them through the auspices of the ERCOT. This is the Texas Regulatory Authority that is in charge of power allocation in the State. This is the organization that decided to divert power from my local co-op and has, in effect, condemned thousands of people to freeze to death this evening. How they make these decisions is beyond me, but I assume that the wealthy North Dallas suburbs are powered up. Predominantly African-American South Dallas is probably freezing, as are the predominantly rural areas surrounding the city.
We have propane, but we can’t use it to heat the trailer because the furnace requires an electric ignition and is run by an electricity-powered thermostat. We’re living in the minivan. As long as it’s running, we have heat. We just filled up on gas.
We tried to book a hotel room, but none are available within a 100 mile radius. The roads are very bad, so we’re hesitant to attempt to find shelter at any distance from our current location.
It’s currently 7 degrees, and we are heading for a low of 3 degrees tonight. Tomorrow’s high is not projected to exceed 25 degrees. The seven inches of snow that we have on the ground isn’t going anywhere. Then, on Wednesday, we are expecting another five to seven inches of snow—completely locking us in. Temperatures will not exceed freezing until Friday. There is no official report regarding when electricity may be restored.
I am not given to panic. Only a couple of times in my life have I been this frightened—for myself and for my child.
Please, wish us well.
We made it through the night. Still no power. No running water. We have food and bottled water. The minivan is keeping us warm. We have 3/4 of a tank of gas.
We’re bored but safe for the moment. Lots of snow expected tomorrow. We won’t be above freezing until Friday.
Thank you all for the thoughts, suggestions, and good vibes.
Power was restored yesterday at 11:30 AM. We got 12 1/2 hours of power before it cut off at Midnight. It was nice to be able to make some coffee and cook some food in the microwave. Sandwiches were getting old. At midnight, we returned to the minivan for heat. Power returned again at 3:00 AM this morning and continues to run now—8:30 AM. Internet service, for some reason, is superb.
We only got 3-4 inches of additional snow yesterday. We may get a little more this afternoon, but we’re not “stuck.” I can still get the van out onto the main road if need be. We still have a half a tank of gas. Water, of course, is unavailable—pipes frozen solid. It’s currently 23 degrees. We’re expecting a high of 25 today. Temperatures may reach 34 degrees tomorrow for a brief period, but we’re not expecting a real thaw until Saturday.
We’re not so panicked at this point. We will be fine if the electricity remains on.
The temperature is currently 25 degrees with a high of 28 expected today. Our last day above freezing was Sunday, Feb. 14. Current weather forecasts predict that our next day above freezing will be Saturday, Feb. 20 for a total of six straight days of sub-freezing temperature—a rare occurrence in these parts. Needless to say, we have no water due to the widespread freezing of underground pipes, but that’s our biggest irritant. Otherwise, we are OK.
We only got about an inch of snow yesterday. So far this week, about 11 inches have fallen here, but some of it has packed down, and some of it has sublimated. At the moment, we have a hard-packed, crunchy 5 inches on the ground. The minivan, thus, is not stuck. We can still “get out” if need be (though there’s really nowhere for us to go).
The main source of our relief is that we have only had one, momentary loss of power in the past 30 hours. We’re warm. We can microwave food and, given that we have internet access, we are much less bored. No clue whether we will lose power again. No promises have been made by ERCOT, but we have a half a tank of gas and can still use the minivan for heat if the need arises.
There are reports of massive water infrastructure damage all over the state. Our own RV park shows evidence of big, slushy patches of snow that indicate water line breaks. No clue when water will return. We have a good bit of bottled water left, however, so the lack of water is merely an inconvenience, as opposed to a source of serious concern at this time.
Many, many thanks to you all for the good vibes, well-wishes, suggestions, and offers of assistance. We will continue to update. We’re not out of the woods yet.
2/19/21 《Friday》Good morning. Once again, things in Laelth’s world in the Free State of Van Zandt (East Texas) are not too bad.
The temperature is currently 12 degrees with a high of 33 expected today. You may recall that our last day above freezing was Sunday, Feb. 14. Current weather forecasts continue to predict that our deep freeze will break tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 20) as temperatures are expected to reach 43 degrees. We continue to have no water due to the widespread freezing and subsequent bursting of underground pipes. Otherwise, the Daughter and I are still OK.
At the moment, we have a hard-packed, icy 4 inches of snow on the ground. That should all be gone by tomorrow afternoon. We have had reliable electricity for over 54 hrs. Looks like the grid in our area is stable now. We’re warm. We have food and, we have internet access. Life is good, but a shower would be really nice.
The minivan is safe on the major road near the RV park. Several local businesses have reopened, so we ventured out for gasoline and other supplies yesterday. Gasoline was being rationed at the station nearest us (no more than $20.00 worth per vehicle). Bread, nearly all dairy products, bottled water, and a few other items were unavailable at the Dollar General, but that was to be expected. No post-blackout deliveries have arrived yet.
Water remains the big issue—here and for most of the state. Still no clue when water may be restored. Still no clue how much damage has been done. We will keep you apprised of what little we know.
Thanks again to our friends and allies for all the moral, spiritual, and material support. You mean a lot to us. Cheers!
The temperature is currently 21 degrees with a high of 43 expected this afternoon. That will melt us completely. Freezing temperatures are not expected to return until Sunday night. Even then, the low is expected to be around 28. That’s plenty high enough to keep the pipes from freezing with slow drips on all the faucets. Late this afternoon, after the big melt, I will see if I can get our water up and running again.
As you may recall, our last day above freezing was Sunday, Feb. 14. We actually broke freezing yesterday and had a five-hour melt in the afternoon as the temperature rose to 36 degrees, but that wasn’t enough to get our water moving. Fingers crossed, we will have water later today. We remain on a county-wide boil order for all tap water because it’s not moving fast enough through the pipes to be deemed safe. Non-emergency use of water (showers, baths, sprinklers, etc.) is technically forbidden until full water pressure returns.
We continue to have reliable electricity. We have food, bottled water, and internet access. The minivan has a full tank of gas. Ultimately, we’re doing quite well under the circumstances.
Thanks again to all our friends and allies for your generous moral, spiritual, and material support. You have meant a great deal to us through this remarkable experience. Cheers!
Water returned yesterday afternoon as expected, and, despite my best efforts to dry out our trailer prior to the deep freeze, we have numerous leaks. The main, kitchen faucet is just flat-out busted. When it’s turned on, all the water flows out where the faucet meets the sink. That’s not right.
Initially, I thought that was our only failure. This morning, however, I discovered (by seeing all the water on the floor) that there are, at least, two more leaks ... somewhere ... coming from busted pipes, valves, or hoses in the walls. To top it all off, our “water out” line to the park’s septic tank is still frozen, so our waste water is backing up into our tanks. Only answer? I had to turn our water back off until I can get some repairs done.
We’re expecting another freeze tonight, so I am hesitant to try to warm up the frozen, underground septic line just yet. Until I can get waste water out of the trailer, I don’t want to allow any water into it. This ordeal may last another week—perhaps more. Plumbers are booked solid.
On the bright side, I was actually able to cook food on the stove last night. That was a nice change. We continue to have reliable electricity. We still have food, bottled water, and internet access. We are still doing quite well under the circumstances.
Thanks, for all you do. I look forward to ending these updates soon. Today, I just needed to vent some frustration.