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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

Deadly disaster makes history

Lauren+Foster%2FSpecial+to+The+Collegian%0AThe+Fort+Worth+Water+Gardens+stands+still%2C+frozen+solid+and+covered+in+blankets+of+snow.+The+city+received+several+inches+of+snowfall+during+the+second+week+of+February.
Lauren Foster/Special to The Collegian The Fort Worth Water Gardens stands still, frozen solid and covered in blankets of snow. The city received several inches of snowfall during the second week of February.
Lauren Foster/Special to The Collegian
The Fort Worth Water Gardens stands still, frozen solid and covered in blankets of snow. The city received several inches of snowfall during the second week of February.

Students reflect on unexpected devastation they faced in wake of dangerous Winter Storm Uri

 

ALYSON OLIVER &
JOSE ROMERO
campus editors

Historic winter storm Uri is finished, but its presence has left a lasting impact.

“Trying to keep up with school, transferring, a winter storm, and the normal stresses of life all while still in the middle of a pandemic has been difficult, to say the least,” student Teresa Montez said.

During the freezing temperatures, over 4 million Texas residents were powerless on Feb. 16. Some were without electricity for several days.

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, it was four minutes, 37 seconds away from having a blackout that could’ve lasted months.

Montez said her household did not sustain any property damage or experience any other issues such as power loss.

She let a friend without electricity stay with her and her husband, she said. Currently, she is letting another friend shower and do laundry at their house since she is without water.

Montez said now, despite following guidelines to keep from overworking her heating system, she’s waiting on an electric bill that will likely be at least $400.

“The emotional and financial burdens these failing systems are causing make it clear that wide-spread reform is long overdue,” she said.

She is outraged by the situation and the deaths it caused, she said.
During the storm, nearly 80 people died according to The Wall Street Journal.

In Harris County, at least 15 of the deaths were from hypothermia. According to The Texas Department of State Health Services, it may take several weeks before Texas has a finalized tally of the deaths.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced the coldest three days in a row since 1983, according to WFAA.

 

 

Azul Sordo/The Collegian
Icy water floods a kitchen and dining area after pipes froze and burst. This was a common result of Winter Storm Uri’s record-breaking, below freezing temperature

Storm

The average temperature from Feb. 14–16 was 10.8 degrees, 0.9 degrees colder than the previous record.

“State leadership was more concerned about large corporations saving money and avoiding Federal regulations than they were about the well-being of their fellow citizens,” Montez said.

She’s learned she can’t trust the current Texas government to protect and take care of its citizens, she said.

It will not be the storm that pushes Texas to change the way they handle energy, she said. Rather, it will be its citizens raising their voices and making it clear they don’t accept the officials that allowed this situation to happen.

“We cannot expect change, we must demand it,” Montez said.
Feb. 15, student Hunter Brown lost power and expected electricity would return within minutes, but it was off for a day and a half. The inside of her home was 45 degrees, 13 degrees away from freezing temperatures.

“That night we lit a fire in our fireplace to stay warm,” Brown said. “We weren’t prepared for our power to go off so we didn’t have much firewood.”

The cats in her home were freezing as well, she said. Brown and her family members had to cuddle up together to retain warmth.

On the second day of no power, she contacted her friend after seeing a post by the local law enforcement’s social media account saying the outages could potentially last until Thursday morning.

“The cold really does start to break you after a certain time,” Brown said. “I started to cry on the phone with her. I debated on taking my cat with me and in the end, I knew I couldn’t do that to my friend’s cats and my cat as they had never met before.”

The blame is on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — energy supplier to over 25 million Texans, according to its website — and government officials, she said. ERCOT should’ve prepared the power grid and had the proper supplies to deal with the snow, she said.

“I’m pissed with how the situation was handled,” she said. “ERCOT knew the storm was coming and they did nothing to prepare. Then, we have basically all of our government officials in different states or flying to Cancun.”

Student Otarius Napoleon recently moved into his house Jan. 21 and having his power go out left a permanent impact.

He had a collection of exotic fish estimated to be worth around two thousand dollars, he said. The filters and heaters in the tank lost electricity which resulted in him trying to transport the fish to a safe location in the cold, but he wasn’t able to save them.

“They were the same as family and I have been in a state of shock ever since,” Napoleon said greater Fort Worth area, all of which played a part.

 

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