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Texas Freeze of 2021

3 Dark Days

By ElsaPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 15 min read
A Few Hours Before We Lost Power

Living in South Texas, we are used to blazing hot summers, and sticky humid air, we really aren't used to freezing cold weather. Last year, the freeze of February hit the whole state, hard.

By Matthias Marx on Unsplash

It was just a month into living in our new house and we were told to prepare for freezing temperatures. Both my mom and dad gave me some tips on how to prepare my house for the storm. I covered my pipes, I placed most plants inside or covered them, I made sure to have flashlights and batteries at hand, as well as water and food to weather the storm. The storm was set to hit during the weekend of the 13th of February. As a teacher, we were sent home early that Friday and told to keep up with the news for future school closings.

The storm came from the Northern part of the states on downward, it didn't really hit my city until early on the 15th. I hunkered down with my dogs, Yuki and Scout, and my cat, Frida. We turned the heater up and bundled up under our blankets the night of the 14th.

We woke up to about half a foot of snow and we still had power the morning of the 15th. School was canceled due to power outages all around the city and the fact that we don't ever see snow but once a decade. I called my family, friends, and made sure everyone was still safe and sound with power. They all were and I was hopeful, we wouldn't be hit with power outages. Boy, was I wrong. As I placed my phone on the charger I looked over at my girls and they were both still bundled up in the blankets with their matching sweaters. I decided to take them out to do their business and see snow for the first time.

Bundled up.

I put on my thickest Texas coat and knock-off Uggs, and opened up the backyard door to let them let them out. It was freezing cold but they loved it. Both were jumping and having a good time eating the snow. Scout was running all around the yard taking in the winter land that had formed all around the grass and fences. Her little face lit up as she made her own version of a snow angel. Yuki jumped around a bit and then just wanted to eat the snow.

It was time to go back inside to thaw off and get ready for the day. We remained with power for about another 12 hours, basically all day, but right before bed the lights went out. That is when a little panic kicked in. We were alone, in a new area. That night my best friend called and asked if I wanted her to come over and spend the night with me, I acted like I was fine and said no, I also didn’t want her driving from across town in the sleek streets. My mom asked me too, if I wanted her to pick us up and ride it out at her house, she had power. I again, said no. I didn’t want anyone to risk driving in that weather just because I was scared of being alone in the dark. I had my girls, and we would be okay. They made me feel safe and I knew we could get through this experience together.

It was bedtime already so we went to bed to get through another freezing night. We had 3 large wool blankets and all my girls had a sweater on. I slept with a hoodie and sweatpants, ready for the night.

Day 1

The next morning I was glad to be awoken by bright sunlight and away from the dark without electricity. I didn’t want to make that first move of getting out of the warm heat from out blankets. My girls didn’t even move, they were too comfy under the mountain of bright colored tigers and lion prints. I walk to the thermostat. It was 41 inside my house but it felt much colder. I ran back to the bed and get under the covers as my phone rings. It’s my sister saying that mom wants to come get us, that the roads aren’t that bad anymore. I refuse and say that it’s fine and that the power should be on soon. I honestly wanted us to be picked up but the roads were still bad out there.

Frida.

We finally get up and the girls reluctantly go outside to to their business. The snow was still there. As I watch them to make sure they don’t slip on the ice I hear a loud banging at my front door. It startled me but I go to the window and see it’s my neighbor from next door. She is a super sweet person, even to this day, she looks out for me, my house, and my girls.

“Hey how are y’all holding up? I tried calling you but the call wasn’t going through.” She said as she was shivering. My phone was acting up, when my sister called the call was spotty. The towers must be overworked, I thought.

“We are okay. We have these warm blankets and just hanging in there. I think the phones are messing up now too. How are y’all?” I responded with my hands cold in my hoodie.

“We are good too. Just hoping the electricity comes up soon. Do you have water? Did you check if your pipes are frozen?” She asks with concern. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth to check if the water was gone. I told her to hold a minute and go check the kitchen. I open the faucet, and nothing comes out. Crap. I run back outside and give her the news.

“Let’s shut off our water, it’ll be less likely for the pipes to burst if the water is off. I’ll show you.” She said. I assume she was right because we shut off our water, 4 of us from this side of the street and we were one of the few houses that didn’t have pipes burst. I’m so thankful for her for saving my pipes! I followed her and her older son was there with this bar looking thing, he showed me where to turn it off and on and said that when it thaws he will turn it on again. I thanked them and told her I would check in on her again later that day.

I go back inside and contemplate going to my mom’s house. After a few minutes I decide to stay and continue making it through at my house. My girls and I sit on the couch for the rest of the day, sleeping, reading, or sewing. I try to conserve the power on my phone but I do manage to look at weather reports. Other people have it worse than us, I pray for them. It’s bad all over the city and most parts of the state. School has been canceled for the rest of the week. After a long day we head to the room and get ready for bed. It’s so dark. I use my flashlight and try to not think about random scary things and go to bed. As I got ready for bed I looked on news updates. Something to keep me up at night came up, it seems that some people were taking advantage of the dark and breaking into homes. It was in a neighborhood about 10 minutes from mine. I knew 5 of my closest neighbors, if anything happened, they would hear it. I then look at Scout, she’s a pretty big dog with an aggressive bark. She’s very protective of me and her sisters, she would for sure scare anyone away. I tried to block all those news stories away, bundled up with my girls and fell into a restless sleep.

Day 2

I woke up in the middle of the night to police sirens and fire trucks. It was around 2am. They were loud and sounded close. I opened my citizens app and found out there was a house fire about 5 blocks down. People trying to stay warm with space heaters can get dangerous, I assumed. I grabbed my flashlight and brace for the cold that had infested my house. I went towards the thermostat and it read 37. How is it 37 degrees if I supposedly have insulation?! I bury myself into my hoodie and head towards the living room, it has larger windows. I couldn’t see anything, just pitch black, don’t know what I thought I could see anyway. The house was eerie silent and the darkness just gave it a creepy vibe. I never felt anything sinister in my house in the month I had lived in it, but the darkness made it feel that way. I know it was my imagination and fear running wild. I feel something brush up against my leg and I shriek like a child. It was my cat, she’s a wanderer and roams about the house. I give her a quick pet and head back to bed, Yuki was dead asleep but Scout was on high alert, I flash the light at her and she gives out a tiny bark, like she was reassuring me that all was okay. I crawl back into the warmth of my tiger blanket and and let the sirens fade as sleep overtakes me.

I am startled awake with Scout licking the side of my face. She only does that when she really has to go. I put my fake Uggs on and nudge Yuki awake, she looks at me and buries her little pink spotted nose back into the covers. She refused to get up at that time. It was still dark out but it was early 6am. Scout follows behind me and we head to the yard. She goes out quickly and comes back quicker. The snow is still there after all these hours. We go back to bed and I grab my phone, I had a few missed calls and text messages. All from people making sure I’m okay and saying they are okay too. The phones have still been crazy. The calls drop or don’t go through at all. My charge is at 25%. I think about my phone dying, what if I have an emergency? How much longer will the power be out? In the darkness of dusk I call my electricity provider, just for kicks and giggles. A nice, older sounding lady picks up and introductions are made.

“I want to know if you know when our power will be back on? I know it’s a state wide issue, but any ETA?” I ask, surprised by my cracking voice. Why did I start crying? I’m safe in my house, I have shelter, I think. Your pups, kitty, and you are safe. Stop being a brat, I think to myself.

“I don’t know sweetie, we are told to say that we don’t have a time frame. It’s a statewide issue.” She says as calmly as possible.

I start crying. I feel stupid. I know that I am blessed and that there are other people that need the power more than my selfish ass, but the tears just come out. I think it’s that I’m here alone with my girls. Or the fact that we just had moved into our own home and this happens a month later. The alarm doesn’t work, none of my cameras work, nothing that makes me feel safe is working and the tears start to fall. First world problems, I think in my head. Get it together. Be happy you are inside, stop crying I tell myself.

“I’m just scared. I just moved in and I’m alone. It’s all dark and nothing works. My phone is about to die and it’s 37 degrees inside my house right now.” I cry. The nice lady just listens and tries to calm me down. She asks if I can go somewhere with someone so that I can feel safer. I say I do. We hang up with thank yous and goodbyes. I wipe the tears off my cold face and start laughing at how ridiculous that just was. We are going to be fine. This is nothing, you big baby. You cry because your alarm doesn’t work? Get a grip! I shake it off and get under the blankets again. Scout places her large paw on my shoulder as a sign of reassurance.

“I know we will be fine. We have water and food and blankets.” I tell her.

We get up a couple of hours later and I grab my phone to check in on my family and respond to those texts I didn’t get to while I was crying to that stranger. The texts won’t go through. The call to my mom won’t go through. Ugh, I think. Everything seems to be down. I take a breath and remain calm. Scout looks at me with her brown concerned eyes and places her giant head on my lap. I let her and reassure her too. Yuki, still sleeping by my side.

I head to the kitchen and open the curtains. I let the girls out and feed them their breakfast. Frida gobbles hers up and then perches herself on her tree, staring off out her favorite window. It’s so cold I just grab one of my blankets and wrap it around myself. I decide to go check on my neighbor. I tell the girls I’ll be back and head outside.

Frida on her tree.

It’s just as cold out here as it is in my house, I think to myself. I walk the steps to her house and knock with frozen fingers. Her and her sons are doing okay too but also it’s freezing in her house. She asks me if I’m going to stay here or go to my mom’s. I tell her that I don’t know, that it depends on the power. My mom has power! It only went out at her house for a few hours. It depends on the power but there is no way of knowing when it’ll be back. We discuss turning the water back on today and seeing if it thawed out. The lowest it has gotten was 32, not in the teens like before. She told me her son would turn it on for me and to let her know if the water comes through, that she would wait in the backyard so I don’t have to walk around. I walk back home and think about breakfast. I just realized I hardly ate yesterday and I feel a bit hungry.

I checked the water and a little stream started coming out! I ran to the backyard and let my neighbor know. Her’s was working as well! That was good news, I didn’t want to deal with busted pipes. I made a non toasted bagel and slap some peanut butter on it. My girls join me on the couch and place their wet cold noses on my hoodie. I’m thankful to have them. My two rescues, what would I do without y’all? I eat my breakfast in silence and then decided to sit in the car for a bit with the heater and charge my phone. I take the dogs with me, Frida did not want to be bothered, so I leave her on her tree, and then we are warm inside our tiny Corolla. I’m glad I filled the tank up, I heard it’s going to be tough getting gas down here. I wait until my phone is at least halfway charged and we head back inside.

While sitting on the couch and reading under the blankets, my phone starts ringing. Wow, a call made it through, I thought. It was my best friend’s boyfriend. He was talking so fast I could barely understand him. Turns out that she had appendicitis the night before and he had to rush her to the hospital and the rain and sleet. She was in the hospital at that moment but he couldn’t stay by her side due to the covid restrictions. All this happening while the freeze was going on. I told him to keep me as updated as he could due to the bad reception. He told me he would call me when they discharged her.

The hours ticked by and the day was just not warming up. The news said that it should start warming up by the end of the week. After many failed texts and calls, I was finally able to reach my mom. She told me to stop being a baby and to come to her house, with all my fur babies. That this is going to go on for at least 3 more days until it got warmer. I told her no, that the power should be on soon. Now, I’m not sure why I kept refusing, the roads were better then. I’m guessing I didn’t want to shuffle my girls around. I don’t know. The day dragged on, cold and long. Night started to fall and the pit in my stomach grew. I have never been afraid of the dark but I guess during this time I was. Again, we buried ourselves under blankets, had a flashlight nearby, and now my gun. I decided to keep it close while I slept. I don’t live in the worst neighborhood or the best. But there had been a lot more break-ins. It was baffling to me that people do these kinds of things when the city is shut down and people are freezing to death. Yes, there were deaths all around the state. We really aren’t prepared for this kind of weather.

I tried to doze off but the sirens came and went through the night. My neighbor reassured me that all was fine and that she is literally a stone thrown distance away from me. I tried to sleep with those thoughts of safety in my head.

Day 3

I awoke to the sound of pliter platter, more rain. More rain, equals more sleet. It was still dark but the sun would rise soon. I woke my girls up and took them outside. I decided to make some coffee and then I heard a knock knock at my door. I looked at the time and it was 6:30am. Who could it be this early? I thought. I headed towards the window and saw my mom and older brother at the door. I opened it in a flash and hugged my mom in a cold bear hug. The tears started coming. She said they were here for us and the made the guest bedroom for us to stay in. She said why am I just here in the cold when they have power? I agreed in a heartbeat and started to pack up the girls’ crates, food, and water bowls.

As I was pushing Frida into her carrier, she hates it, the lights flickered on. A wave of relief came over me and I looked at my mom and said “We are still going, there are 3 more days of this.” I repeat to her. Just then the lights went off again. My brother helps me pack my mom’s car up and I grab my things and place them in my workbag. The lights turned on again. I shake my head and tell my mom and brother that I’ll be back. I had to tell my neighbor I would ride the rest of the storm out with my family. I knocked on her door and let her know, she told me she would keep me as updated as she could about the power, and that hopefully it stays on. We hug and part ways.

I was excited to go to my mom’s. They had set up the spare bedroom for me and my girls. The warm air around us embraced us in a warm hug. She was going to my favorite food for lunch later, caldo de pescado, fish stew. My sisters were there also along with my family dog. I hug my mom and thank her for coming for us. She gave me a slap on my shoulder saying I was silly about staying alone with no heat. I agreed. Just then, my phone pinged, it was my neighbor, the power had gone out again.

I had never experienced anything like this before. I had been through hurricanes and evacuations, tropical storms, and random flooding. But an ice storm? In Texas? It was a crazy experience but throughout the whole time, I had my girls with me. Scout, Yuki, and Frida kept me calm and we got through it together.

Days after the ice finally melted and we went back home.

**My neighborhood was without power for 6 days.

**246 people died during the freeze of 2021 in Texas.

humanity

About the Creator

Elsa

Teacher, traveler, fur baby mom, reader, and writer. I enjoy writing historical fiction stories, fiction, poetry, true crime, and nonfiction.

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