Texas in the Snow


Emma Groves, Staff Writer

Abilene, Texas, and surrounding areas received an estimated 14 inches of snow and endured resulting rolling blackouts which some are still experiencing. In addition to this, water treatment was not running and citizens were being asked to boil their water in order to safely ingest it.

This unprecedented snowfall was happening statewide, but for me, the snow has left a lasting impact on my life experiences. On February 14th, my family woke up to an expectedly happy Valentine’s Day. From fun meals, to a new addition to the family (a sulcata tortoise), the snow seemed to only add to the fun. However later that night, we lost power.

Unlike most families in Abilene, our blackout was never a rolling one. We woke up cold and could see our breath inside our own home. On February 15th, we had no idea that it would be three days before we’d have power again.

We made do with our large fireplace burning in full gear, but we had no idea what to expect. We soon realized that we would not be getting power again that day and prepared for the night by pushing our living room furniture close to the fire and lighting candles around the room. We closed all the doors in the house in a futile effort to preserve heat, and tied flashlights to the ceiling fan in hopes of lighting the room.

Luckily for my family, we had a propane stovetop that we were able to cook on top of for all of our meals. We cooked chili that night and slept in sub zero sleeping bags on the couch with hopes that the power would be on in the morning.

Those hopes were very short lived as we woke up to another cold morning. We played endless games of Clue, read by the fire, attempted to create art in the dark, and took freezing hikes in the snow. Halfway through the day, we realized that the fridge was not going to keep our food cold despite our attempts to open it as few times as possible. The only solution? We moved everything into the snow and prayed the temperatures would keep it cold until the power returned.

That night we enjoyed the luxury of a movie as we had charged a laptop in the car earlier and used a hotspot from a phone to keep the movie playing. Pretty soon another cold night fell on our second day without power.

As we woke for the third time to a cold house, we began to fear our animals wouldn’t make it much longer. Our new baby sulcata tortoise needed heat to survive and our chickens were freezing in their coops. We walked outside to see a bird quite literally drop dead from a tree and nose dive into the snow. With that sign, we knew we needed to leave.

However, the roads hadn’t been scraped and were coated in snow. We also had our animals to consider and all the things we’d need to do once the power did return, so we waited it out. We moved our freezer food into the snow as well and prayed fervently for the power to return for much needed showers and warmth.

As night began to fall, our failed attempts to cook corn dogs over the fire were the final straw: we were leaving. My dad graciously decided to stay home for when the power turned on, and the rest of us piled into my mom’s Honda Pilot, and took off.

With slow speed on the scary roads, we arrived safely to a friend’s house 30 minutes later. We eagerly rushed to the showers and rested well knowing that we could flick on a light if we wanted and would be warm throughout the night.

The next morning we finally woke up warm and happy as we found out that at 3:45 a.m., the power had turned on in our house. We thanked our friends and grabbed some food and headed home to a finally warm house.

The entire experience was quite overwhelming and stressful as we worried for our next meals, the chances of our animals surviving, and the fact that we may not be warm for awhile. While the snow was still piled up outside my window, and the water was still needing to be boiled, the power was on and it’s something I won’t take for granted again.

In America, we get so comfortable in our modern and privileged society that we don’t even realize how luxuriously we live. I cannot even begin to imagine what this time has been like for the homeless population of Texas. Or the people who live in third world countries where this is their normal. We lead such privileged lives, but we are so privileged that we often do not even realize how privileged we are.

As horrible as the entire experience has been, it has taught me so much. From deep lessons of not taking things for granted, to random knowledge such as the fact that a crayon can be lit and used as a torch in case of an emergency, I have learned so much. The unprecedented is where we are living, and rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, it’s time we pay attention and look at the lessons it’s teaching us.