Upon heading home from town in mid-afternoon, I found myself sliding along with a dozen other vehicles on highway 290 W about a mile from my off-road. Semis and cars alike stuck, gaining no tractor, due to the ice. Of course, I drove very slowing hoping to avoid this varied collection of cars and trucks, unfortunately my caution was to no avail, as I came to the top of the turn on the highway, my vehicle began sliding, heading for the stuck group, by chance, fortunately, I slid into a position between two large trucks, as though I was parallel parking, I too, was now stuck, the good news was, no cars were damaged. A few minutes later I was Informed that a sander and plow was expected within the hour, they never came. After an hour, I opted to attempt an escape, as it turned out, I managed to creep at an angle and get to the high side of the turn all were stuck in, as I managed to creep, it was heartwarming that many gave me support in my endeavor, arms raised, smiles, one yelled ‘at a-boy’ and I did make it to the high side and turned in the direction of our home and very slowly drove to our ranch road.
Fortuitously; this was very good idea, considering the slipping and sliding an hour earlier, so I opted to park my 4x4 truck by the highway and walked the mile and a half to our home.
Within a matter of eight hours there was no way anyone could drive on our road as it was a sheet of ice and snow for over a mile. We live at an elevation of 2000 feet, the run up the hill was unapproachable by even a four-wheel drive vehicle.
That night the unexpected hit with a vengeance, this is truly an understatement.
It was Valentine’s Day 2021. In the state of Texas, we awoke to a much colder than normal day, but then again, it had happened before thirty-five years prior and another event about 50 years earlier than that.
As the day progressed, it was obvious that we had serious problems, as the electricity blinked a few times, renewed its power and then poof. We all thought that (our neighbors) as usual, the utilities would quickly again provide us with power; This was not the case - it was between a minimum of seven and fourteen days before power was totally restored in the Hill Country of Texas.
Fortunately, ‘some’ big cities still had power, but certainly not all. We were lucky, as our town of 10,000 fortuitously continued to have power (a fluke). If one lived beyond the city, they were now back to survival 1890’s 101. The Texas power grid failed ‘big time’. The wind turbines froze, as did the natural gas lines pumps and valves throughout the independent electrical grid of Texas, thus causing a potential massive problem, they had to shut down much of the grid, had they not, the damage would have been catastrophic. The temperature hovered around 6 degrees at night and 17 degrees in the daytime for almost four days. If you lived in the rural country (six miles from town) as we do, you were out of luck.
By the third day of this continued incredible cold weather (along with snow and ice) there was no sign of power restoration coming; we were told via the cell phones (of which some still had some power) by our local utility that it could be 20-30 days.
I fired up our generator on the second day, but the cold was simply too much to attempt heating up the freezing living space and if nothing else - at least our well, this too did not work out, everything was frozen.
Early the morning of the third day, our neighbor knocked on our front door after walking a half mile through snow and ice to make sure we were ok. He invited us to come over and have breakfast and warm up by their fire; of course, we have none. We accepted the invitation and were greeted with a cozy warm family room and other neighbors that had gathered there. We had a great family type breakfast, prepared on the outside propane BBQ. What a treat it was, breakfast 1890’s style, with great neighbors.
Finally, having enough of this freeze and snow (the truck had heat), we decided to hike down to our truck and see what is going on around us. We gingerly and cautiously (5-10 miles per hour) headed for town in the snow and ice and found that they did still have electricity. We visited various hotels and were informed by all that we visited, that they had no vacancies (interestingly, their parking lots were half empty).
Fortunately, almost giving up, we tried the last one (‘Super 8’) before heading back up to the ranch, bingo! The stars were likely shining, as they had a room, and the only reason we got it was that they had held out a few for those that lived in and around town; we qualified for certain. Upon leaving our home, we only had the clothes we wore, my wife did not even have her purse, since we had thought that we would be coming back. As it turned out, we were gone for seven days until the power was restored to our general area.
Upon registering, and then, entering our hotel room it was beyond wonderful. We found that not only was the room warm and cozy, there was hot and cold running waterTV and a microwave. Now this was so great!
And then the rest of the adventure times began. We headed down to Walmart and loaded up with microwave food and clothes to last four or five days, and I purchased a bottle of wine to-boot. As we were walking out of the store, we came upon the in-house Subway sandwich store that was open. Not missing a beat, we went in, we were immediately told that all sales were cash, no power for their computers. No problem. Fortunately, I had some cash on me. We then headed back to our temporary lodging for warmth with absolute blessed gratefulness - Oh Lord, Thank you!
We returned and warmed up with showers, then relaxed and dined in ‘pure luxury’ in the surroundings with self-provided food and snacks. Of course, I savored my wine and we were beyond grateful that we were the lucky who escaped the terrible ice and powerless conditions.
It was frightening, yet a memorable adventure. But the freezing part and almost helplessness was beyond anything I/we had ever experienced. I did find that almost everyone who experienced this freeze and its accompanying misery, appear to have been very effected, some even with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Of our twenty five acres, this is representative of the damage to over three hundred oak and cedar, most over twenty five feet tall, many fifty years old. It took six months to clean up the damage.
log into my Treasure Chest of Memories.