The south does not get snow. That is, not to the effect where anyone would know what to do in the case of a major and unexpected winter storm. Rather, the cold season often brings rain and mild temperatures. But over the course of the past week and a half, Texas has been facing an inclimate weather disaster hardly ever seen south of Virginia. While at first it dazzled Texans statewide who rarely got the chance to spend winter in the snow, it quickly became hazardous, leaving thousands across the massive state without water, power, or heat. Many people banded together to provide assistance and awareness, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the people facing desperate times. Yet many are still left in danger, neglectful governing only fueling the fire.
Historically, Texas has not frequently received groundbreaking amounts of snow; 1-3 inches tends to be the maximum, though the years in which Texas gets snow at all are few and far between. The last major snowfall occurred in 1895, when the state faced 20 inches on Valentine’s day. This time around, most regions maxed out at just upwards of nine inches. Despite technological advancements in the last 126 years, Texans are still largely unprepared for mass snowfall. It’s so uncommon in the southern states to experience such glacial weather, that it usually slips people’s minds to prepare. This became one of Texas’ greatest downfalls, though its people cannot be faulted for unawareness.
Because the state is so used to mild temperatures through the year, wind turbines which power a large portion of the state are not winterized. So, they have been freezing, causing widespread outages. Some politicians have been abusing this dangerous situation as an excuse to attack wind energy and other alternative energy sources, despite the issue relating not to the turbines themselves, but their lack of preparation for cold weather. The same has happened to local pipelines—many Texans were unaware that faucets needed to be left dripping so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, and now, clean running water is largely inaccessible. Orders are being sent out in desperate measures across the state by political officials, recommending boiling water for drinking and basic functioning. Additionally, hard work is constant to get energy sources up and running again.
Matters only worsened, however, when republican Senator Ted Cruz decided that a home-state snowstorm was the perfect opportunity to dodge responsibility and head for the tropics. That’s right—in the midst of disaster and uncertainty for Texans statewide– Cruz was on a family trip in Cancun. Many people cannot afford such a luxury– to be able to plane hop when times get tough. As such, his abandonment sparked intense backlash everywhere. His immaturity was in the public spotlight for several days, all focus on his neglect. Recently his statement on the situation was released; he noted that he regretted the trip and was only going to “be a good dad.” Yet this lackluster explanation did little for the thousands of Texans still suffering without basic necessities. The interference of external sources and groups became necessary for Texas’ relief, as their own senator could not be there.
Today Texas can still use as much help as it can get to support those without power, food, water, or heat. The Salvation Army and the Red Cross are putting all their energy into supporting the state’s population. Additionally, local food banks and restaurants are helping as much as possible to fulfill the needs of their communities. And, there are several organizations directing their efforts towards repairing homes and providing shelter for those whose houses suffered damage from the intense storms. Despite the political issues which have arisen from the storms, community strength is more powerful than ever in helping others.
Simply put, Texas is not accustomed to winter weather, and certainly not at the intensity which it has faced in the past few weeks. Hundreds of thousands faced extreme danger and a lack of understanding of how to handle such a storm. While Texas government officials were of little help, communities were able to come together and assist one another. The state’s need has been recognized at a national level, and serves as an example to the rest of the country, proving two things. One, states must always be prepared for the worst and have the ability to handle it with efficiency and care. And two, arguably the most important, is that there will never be hesitation by local communities, officials, and the nation to recognize and support a place in need.