Last week’s snowstorm was devastating for many people across Texas. More than half of the state lost power and access to clean water, pipe bursts damaged property and many lives were lost.
It is clear through all of these damages that Texas was grossly unprepared for such a storm. Residents expressed frustration that state and city officials were aware of the storm in the weeks beforehand and failed to inform residents and prepare for the devastation that the storm would cause.
During the first few days of the blackouts, Gov. Greg Abbott claimed the blackouts were caused by failure to green energy, such as frozen windmills or failing solar power. Abbott took the opportunity to decry the Green New Deal, ignoring experts who said the massive blackouts were caused mostly by failing gas and coal supply, which ERCOT reports state make up more than half of the state’s power supply.
Sen Ted Cruz left Texas and flew to Mexico, taking a vacation from the cold while his constituents struggled to keep warm. It’s clear that our state officials were not only unprepared for the storm, but they failed to take seriously how much damage would be done to the residents and their homes.
Once the blackouts started, many water facilities were forced to turn off water in many cities across Texas, and those who had water were under a boil water notice.
Some city officials across Texas were quick to blame residents for not preparing for the storm better or for complaining about the storm, like the viral Facebook post from the then mayor of Colorado City.
Residents all across the state were quick to condemn the former mayor’s actions, and began calling out officials in other cities for lack of information or preparation prior to the storm.
Without access to power or Wi-Fi, many residents complained that they were unaware that there was a boil water notice, didn’t know about the water shutoff being city-wide, and were baffled at the city’s expectation that residents would be able to boil water without the ability to turn on their stoves.
It is clear that city and state officials knew how bad this storm would get beforehand and failed to warn residents and adequately prepare for the weather.
Residents could have been notified by flyers, as the City of Abilene water department has done when there are major leaks in the past, that residents could lose water in the coming days and should adequately prepare, but they didn’t. Stores could have implemented a limitation on water purchases in the days before the storm hit to ensure that everyone had access to clean water, but they didn’t. City officials could have released a statement about the dangers of frostbite or carbon monoxide poisoning from old space heaters, which ultimately led to the deaths of several Texans, but they didn’t.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but we can all agree that if city and state officials took the storm more seriously from the minute they found out about it, residents could have been more adequately prepared. Warning people to prepare for frozen pipes is not the same thing as preparing for week-long power outages and a complete lack of potable water.