If you live in the United States you are probably familiar with the phrase “I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.” Well, folks, the time has come. Texas has frozen over.
I won’t go into the politics of climate change here. That’s not my style. But I do want to talk about what’s going on, why it’s important, and how you can help.
Winter storm Uri hit Texas this month, burying the state in snow. What started as a fun snow day off school has now turned into a deadly winter freeze with power outages, food shortages, and deaths across the state. Think “horror movie version of Frozen” but without the Disney magic. No princess is going to save us from this mess by unfreezing Arendelle.
A good portion of the U.S. is experiencing below freezing temperatures this month. Why is Texas so different? It’s not because Texas never experiences snow, but because Texas is on an entirely different power grid from most U.S. states. The state of Texas isn’t connected to either of the two major power grids that cover the continental United States. So when freezing temperatures started to shut down parts of power grids, the state of Texas was hit hard. Not only did their backup systems not work (no, it’s not the wind farm’s fault the power grid shut down) but people stuck at home put massive pressure on a power grid that already wasn’t at 100% – leaving power supply in short demand and pushing the system to its absolute limits. As of three days ago, some Texans have been left in the dark for more than 24 hours. Slowly, the state is returning power to its citizens.
To read more about why the Texas power grid failed, here’s an article by U.S. News that I think explains it fairly well and is a good place to start furthering your understanding of the situation: EXPLAINER: Why the Power Grid Failed in Texas and Beyond.
As the temperature continues to stay low and power outages continue, more and more people have gone to desperate measures to stay warm. Families have been huddling around gas stoves to warm themselves up. People are building fires inside their homes (some without fireplaces). A mother and her daughter died of carbon monoxide poisoning by leaving their car running in their garage as an attempt to stay warm. So far, thirty eight people have died due to the arctic blast.
Many across the state are seeing both food and water shortages due to the inclement weather. In some areas, even though power is returning, people still do not have access to drinking water. Austin’s city’s water reservoirs can hold about 100 million gallons of water. They’re now nearly empty because of burst pipes and broken water mains. People in areas affected by the storm are being told to boil their water before they use it to prevent illness. To make matters worse, the freeze has wiped out many of Texas’s crops for this spring.
Citizens are stepping up to help the homeless take shelter from the storm. Many homeless have frozen to death already, with even more receiving frostbite on their extremities. Hospitals are trying to take in as many as they can, but say that resources are dropping while their number of patients continues to increase.
Oh and Texas Senator Ted Cruz fled to Cancun with his family, ironically leaving his dog Snowball at home to brave the storm alone in the family house. Granted he was only there for a day, but one day is more than enough for that kind of political blunder to hit the news and blow up.
So what can you do?
Donations are going to be your best bet right now as shipping anything is going to be delayed due to the storm.
Baby2Baby is an organization that provides children in poverty with diapers and other basic necessities. They’re taking donations for essentials like formula, diapers, and soap but also for cold weather gear for kids in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Click HERE to get to their donation form.
Here is an incredible list of resources from Emily Griffin: TEXAS WEATHER CRISIS ASSISTANCE
And a graphic by her (@dayrbighten on Instagram) with people and organizations you can Venmo: