Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Well, our lights are back on, and it has warmed up! Great news, right: yes it is. Yes it is for some. Yes is for people like me, my family and friends who managed to stay warm without having to go to the hospital or die from hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning. I am grateful. We were blessed.
However, some did not fare so well in this Texas freeze. Not faring so well is a grave understatement. So far, the death toll reportedly in Texas stands at 41; 25 in Harris County--where Houston is--alone. The majority who died were in their 60s to 80s. Two children were reported to have died in addition to an 11 year-old boy in a neighboring county. Most died of either hypothermia (freezing to death) or carbon monoxide poisoning. This poisoning came about due to the use of grills in the home, running generators in garages and people sitting in their running cars IN their garages. These people made what they felt was the best decision they could out of the sheer desperation to keep warm as the temperatures dipped into the teens and the power remained off much longer than expected.
This unnecessary tragedy also affected hospitals because water pressures dropped to dangerously low levels which affected patients, i.e. dialysis patients like my stepmother. Because of low water pressure, her dialysis treatment had to be delayed and this resulted in complications that now has her in the intensive care unit. This angers me even more, but I'll put my energy into prayers for her instead.
The unnecessary deaths were tragic in themselves. Now let's move to the other unnecessary tragedy: devastating damages and losses to homes and businesses. While our home was spared, thousands and thousands were not. That includes my own mothers home in a town about an hour from us. I had her to come stay with us because I was uncomfortable with her being alone in this storm. Before she returned, she got a call that water was pouring from the side door. A cousin that lives across the street was able to go turn off the main valve. It turns out that a pipe had burst in the attic, as it had for so, so many. Pictures show the ruptured pipe and destruction in her kitchen where she loved to cook.
To add insult to injury, some of the electric companies who lured customers in with cheap rates had price spikes to the tune of thousands of percents due to their variable rates attached to those initial cheap rates. This left already suffering Texans with electric bills in the hundreds to the tens of thousands of dollars. One thing I learned a long time ago when learning about acquiring a mortgage, was to stay away from "variable rates." I never trusted them. When selling those plans, the low rates are highly promoted and the possibility of the increase is greatly downplayed. However, a government moratorium was passed on disconnections, so no one will have to worry about getting their electricity disconnected because they can't pay.
This tragedy has so many moving parts, so I'll have more to come. There will be more because as the weather warms up, the hard work of picking up the pieces begins and mourning the losses resumes.
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