By Emily Letterle
Record breaking winter storms hit the U.S., hitting Texas especially hard, from February 13-17, 2021. The storm has been unofficially called Winter Storm Uri. In Northern Texas, temperatures dropped to a record breaking low of -19 ͦF. The southern infrastructure was horribly unprepared for the cold. Power grids were unable to maintain the above average heating and energy demands and failed, causing mass blackouts across Texas and southern states. 4.2 million people in southern states were left without power, 3.5 million of them living in Texas. 13 million Texans were put under a “boil-water” advisory and told to boil water to drink. In many areas where there was no energy source to boil water, families were told to purchase bottled water. This quickly led to widespread shortages of bottled water in grocery stores. Causing further damage, many Texans experienced bursting pipes in their homes that made staying warm and safe significantly more difficult. In total, insurance companies estimate the damage caused by Winter Storm Uri to cost Texas about $18 billion.
As the storms receded and the weather has now returned to normal in Texas, businesses are opening up again, grocery stores have started to restock shelves, and the home repairs have begun. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas faced considerable backlash after failing to provide Texans with stable power and as a result, the CEO of Texas’ electric grid operator was fired. The company plans to work with the state government to reform the company in order to prevent a deadly catastrophe like this from happening again. On another side of the road to recovery, several federal emergency funds have been granted to Texans to help with the damage to houses, lost wages, and lost crops for farmers. In addition to the federal funds, the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, announced a new Winter Storm Relief Fund last week. $7.1 million has been raised for the fund so far. The money will go as an emergency grant to support families and repair the damage caused to their home by the storms. If you are looking to donate to the relief fund, you can text “Houston Freeze” to 898211.