Snowed In With No Help: Texas’ Major Blizzard Response

On February 15, 2021, Texas suffered through an incredibly violent snowstorm-turned-major-blizzard, with hundreds of videos being posted to social media with people describing how their power had been knocked out, and documenting how they’d been stuck for nearly twelve hours without help. Fast forward to February 17, a whole 48 hours later, those videos have some chilling additions.

Texas has historically been fairly dry for years when it comes to weather, being one of the driest states when it comes to snow;. The state has an average snowfall of just 0.1 inch per year, and with that snowfall only staying on the ground for three days to a week. Compare that with the over 4 inches the state has received already, with a predicted up to 8 inches total coming in the future.

As the blizzard started, Texans were given very little support from local government officials with Colorado City mayor, Tom Bloyd, posting on Facebook a long-winded post telling his citizens to, “Get off your ass and take care of your own family!” during this tumultuous weather occurrence. Then, further down in his post, he says “No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!,” with extra additions of blaming a “socialist government” for the situation at hand. On the morning of February 17, Tom Bloyd quit and pulled out from his position as Colorado City mayor after facing backlash for his postings, but he was not the only elected official to share the “every man for himself” beliefs.

Texans in populated areas are sharing viral maps of the power outages, many finding a frustrating detail. In the maps being shared, Texans point out that some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, like Highland Park, are still left with functioning power while the rest of the surrounding neighborhoods and city blocks have been cut dead for two and a half days. In a twitter post, Riley Stearns, Texas resident, posted about the situation. He said, “Highland Park, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Texas, has had power this entire time. Meanwhile my parents spent much of the day in their car staying warm and will be sleeping in sleeping bags tonight. I hope a million investigations are opened after all of this.” Highland Park is one of a handful of wealthy neighborhoods that had been left unaffected by the rolling power outages, and many Texans are asking for an investigation into ERCOT. The power company responsible for the lackluster response to the blizzard.

Twitter, from user Riley Stearns, February 16,2021Twitter, from user Riley Stearns, February 16,2021

Twitter, from user Terri Gruca (TerriG_KVUE), February 15, 2021

With the near two and a half days without power, cold and slick roads that cannot be properly tended to, government officials not handling the consequences of poor planning and even poorer preparation for their state in the event of any kind of stay-at-home disaster, the blizzard has left over 30 people dead, and millions left to suffer the cold alone. ERCOT officials have given statements saying they expect it could be days before any meaningful power could be returned to the masses, and that they will comply with any investigation into their power grid and “would be surprised if there wasn’t”.