Unprecedented winter storms hit the country during the week of Feb. 14, and while John Brown University saw its share of problems last week, it was only a taste of what most Texans experienced.
More than 3 million people lost power, and four days after the initial outage, an estimated 30,000 people were still without power. Even after rolling blackouts, some people were without energy for over 24 hours. Six days after the storm, 8.7 million people are still on advisory to boil their water. President Biden accurately declared that 146 counties out of 254 are major disasters and deserving of federal aid. Don’t be fooled thinking that the consequences of these events were only one winter storm in the making. This is a result of years of governmental neglect. Texas is not new to catastrophic natural disasters.
Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston just three and a half years ago. The Waco tornado in 1953 decimated much of the town. Without discounting the devastating results of those natural disasters, the difference here is the loss of electricity, undrinkable contaminated water and unsafe winter roads that affected Texans from Houston to Waco, Dallas to San Antonio, and nearly everywhere in-between. Is it acceptable that they were so unprepared for this natural disaster when they know the consequences on the millions of Texans and on the millions of Americans that rely on Texas commerce?
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner called on the Texans to pay more in order to cover the spiked energy prices. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Greg Abbot met with lawmakers to figure out how to limit the cost burden on Texans. One of these men got it right.
While I generally believe in small government, Texans should not be punished for the incompetent preparation of the state. Those who use variable-rate power plans—a plan that tends to lower bills by controlling demand— are being hit the worst. The energy companies servicing Texas claim that they controlled rolling blackouts to keep energy going in commercial areas and areas with hospitals. These factors combined are why some people are claiming lower-income neighborhoods were being sacrificed to keep energy going for the rich.
One more politician deserves a shoutout. Ted Cruz came under fire for taking a trip to Cancún and escaping his powerless house, something most Americans can’t afford to even think about. It got worse when he claimed that he flew to Mexico “to be a good dad” and accompany his daughters. At the Cancún airport, Cruz said, “What’s happening in Texas is unacceptable.” While one has to ask how much good he could have provided had he stayed in his state, Texans were surely not comforted or encouraged by his absence.
Hopefully, the catastrophic events in Texas cause each state to look at how to prepare for the unforeseen. Hopefully, legislators in Texas are honest about what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again. Finally, hopefully, those who are still without power and clean water are able to return to life as normal much faster than a Texas minute.
Photo by Katelyn Kingcade/The Threefold Advocate