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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

POWERLESS-Cold collapses infrastructure

Students improvise in unprecedented weather conditions across Texas

Azul Sordo/The Collegian
Power outages and water shortages have left Texans in dire straits since late Sunday night. Many have been forced to adapt for survival.

alyson oliver
campus editor

Millions of people including TCC students, faculty and staff, have gone without power and water due to the historic weather conditions ongoing in North Texas.

NW student Collin Johnson said it felt too quiet when he woke up early Feb. 15 — his power had gone out. Without electricity, he knew the situation was serious.

His wife, an ICU nurse, stayed in a hotel room provided by her hospital so she could be near work. He was alone with his 2-year-old and 10-year-old children. 

He tried to weatherproof his house as much as he could before he loaded his kids into the car with the heater turned on. He drove around for most of the day and parked by his house that night. Then later at night, he drove around until they fell asleep. 

His electricity came on briefly Feb. 16 but has been out since.

“Leading up to the storm, I did not honestly expect power loss,” he said.

Inside, he warmed his kitchen with candles, terracotta pots and sheets blocking off the rest of the house. He and his kids spent most of their time in the car to keep warm. 

“I have been blessed with the ability to keep gas in my car, but pray for the people who don’t have what I do,” he said.

NE student Sydney McCallum lives in Denton County where power outages began as early as Sunday morning. After a few sporadic outages, rolling blackouts began — on for an hour, off for an hour.

This was frustrating her because not only did the power go off, but so did her cell service, meaning she had to structure tasks like homework and cooking around the hourly outages.

“I’ve just learned that Texas is really not prepared for this kind of weather,” she said. She described this as a once-in-a-lifetime event for the state.

NW student Madeline Hill said she woke up on Feb. 14 to a text from her manager telling her work was closed until further notice.

Her water supply and her internet were on and off, and she had to boil her water, but said she was fortunate to still have power.

“I have lived in Texas my whole life so I have never experienced anything like this, and neither have my parents,” she said. “We are just doing what we are being advised to do and trying to look at the positives.”

More snow fell overnight and into early Wednesday morning marking one week of consecutive below-freezing temps causing pipes to burst in homes and businesses all over Tarrant County.

McCallum said people began to panic-buy supplies on Feb. 16. She and her boyfriend had to stop at multiple stations before they could find gas. And while grocery shopping, meat, bread and vegetables were scarce.

“It feels like the start of the pandemic again,” she said.

Hill said she and her family were underprepared for the storm.

“We did not expect for it to be as serious as it is,” she said. “My mom just told me that the weather was going to get bad, and with the wreck that happened on Friday I knew that it was scary, but not to the extent that it has been.”

Johnson said he hopes this kind of scenario can be prevented from happening in the future.

“I feel like we need to seriously look at the sort of monopoly that ERCOT and ONCOR have over our power grid in Texas,” he said.

People should talk to legislators about improving infrastructure so that situations like the winter storm are not a problem, he said.

And to top everything off, the Public Utility Commission of Texas held a meeting Monday where an order was introduced that will raise energy prices to match the demand of the storm. Translation — after days in the dark, Texans will see their bills increase. 

Hill said this experience has reminded her to stay prepared and to be thankful for what she has.

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