Overview of Texas’ Recent Crisis

On February 13, one of the biggest snowstorms hit Texas and caused a chain of problems for the state. Texas is one of the hottest states in our nation and rarely gets snow. With this being said, Texas is not built for blizzards, and nobody was prepared for the storm.

To begin, Texans noted anywhere from two to nine inches of snow, with the average amount of people seeing no more than five inches. 

“To put things in perspective, Houston’s average low temperature at the coldest month in January is around 40 degrees. However, in Texas, it has only snowed once or twice in my decade living here and the cold weather rarely gets below freezing. […] Last weekend, it got up to 80 degrees,” explained Alumni and Texas resident Phillip Lillquist.

The first problem that arose from the Texas blizzard was the heating of homes and facilities. According to the Washington Post, the electricity grid failed due to such extreme overuse.  As a result, heating was gone for some residents, and some had to resort to using their cars for heat. 

Many Texas residents had to find alternative ways to stay warm, but there were many who experienced problems as a result.

Lilliquist said, “A student from my graduate school tragically lost her three young children and mother in a house fire while trying to heat their home.”

Another issue that arose was the water pipes in the home. Texas resident Jesse Mills said, “Both our regular plumbing pipes and the fire sprinkler pipes burst causing major flooding not only in our home but many of our rental units in our complex.” Houses all over Texas experienced the same issue.

With water pipes being burst, this rendered them unusable, which also means drinking water wasn’t accessible to the public. Luckily, Texas cities had water bottle handout stations all over the state. Denton Brewing company gave out water.

Another issue that appeared was the road conditions. Snowplows are scarce in a state that barely snows, leaving the roads extremely icy and layered with snow. 

As a result, the poor road conditions caused tons of accidents across the states. See this page for images of the road conditions and accidents. 

To compound the struggles the state faced, many saw Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s family trip to Cancun during the midst of this disaster as negligent. 

“Ted Cruz departing for vacation displayed a lack of judgment and commitment to us Texans. Politicians are elected and given the power to support constituents and most importantly during times of hardships where coordination and resources are critical,” said Lillquist. 

Politics aside, Mills notes there are real problems that are compounded by the State’s lack of resources. 

“I’m not angry with anyone or anything in particular. I liken it to Hurricane Michael, which devastated the northwest coast of Florida a few years ago. So many years go by without a specific type of disaster and ‘we’ let our guard down…construction regulations and standards, zoning, disaster preparation, etc. In Texas, most buildings are built to withstand hail and tornado damage for example…but they’ve never dealt with anything quite like this. Again, as a northeast native…4-5” of snow is laughable, hardly even a reason to close schools. But in an area that doesn’t regularly deal with it, obviously, it’s paralyzing…couple that with sub-zero temps for nearly a week and you have a disaster that doesn’t resemble that which we think of as a ‘regular’ disaster.“

As of now, despite the many struggles and mortality rates, Texans are putting the pieces back together, but it will take time to get life back to normal.

Mills said, “We are still living in a hotel, not sure for how long. We’ve had to move a lot of our possessions into storage. The apartment is a huge mess, and there’s been very little communication about how it will all be corrected and fixed.”