Over the course of the past week, the record-breaking, deadly deep freeze which gripped all 256 counties of the 4th largest state in the country started thawing over, leaving behind in its wake a scene of mass destruction. Uprooted trees, broken water pipes, wrecked automobiles, power outages, you name it! Insurance executives labeled the anticipated losses almost close to $19 bn, which approaches that of Hurricane Harvey of 2017, widely regarded as one of the worst storms to ever hit the Gulf Coast, flooding neighborhoods and demolishing refineries.
The NWS said the storm would bring ice, sleet, and heavy snow to parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi as it tracks to the northeast, affecting an area that wasn’t used to such frigid temperatures. After the onset of the storm, it wasn’t long before traveling became a hazard due to frozen roads and the state’s electric grid operator lost all control of electricity adding fuel to the fire, plunging the state into darkness for the foreseeable future. Come Wednesday, Texas was firmly in the frigid grip of the storm as a fresh burst of arctic freeze compounded the already worsening situations of the power outages and electricity crisis. From the bursting of pipes to the hoarding to the lack of medical amenities and ambulances to the 31 people who died since the punishing winter weather set in, this was probably one of the worst storms of this year. All homes ranging from million-dollar neighborhoods to modest residences went dark for days and struggled with food and power while surrounded by the bone-chilling weather.
The power crisis ultimately culminated into a water crisis, with millions of businesses and households dealing with the issue of bursting of pipes or being forced to boil water for drinking. Most facilities need to be run on backup power. Most of the counties requested their residents to permanently suspend their usage of waste on account of the shortage. Close to 100 million gallons of water, worth a day’s supply were all but lost according to reports.
Medical centers and hospitals were in a complete scene of chaos ranging from a spike in the emergency room visits by patients, chilly temperatures to a lack of power and water shortage. Most hospitals have gone into conservation mode saving as many resources as possible. Of note was Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas where the ceiling fell in spraying the emergency room with water. The most notably affected are dialysis patients who need a constant supply of filtered water and power. This could be a death sentence for most patients who haven’t received dialysis services.
The pandemic had already led to dwindling food bank supplies and compounded the number of needy families. Now, most food banks are running out of supplies due to problems of transport from their primary supply, grocery stores. Grocery stores are wiped clean of their stock. According to reports, livestock rearers were also affected as they were out of feed and most of the poultry was reported to have frozen to death.
As long as we’re talking about disasters, measures taken for COVID-19 vaccination measures were all delayed due to the weather delaying the delivery of thousands of doses countrywide. President Biden had announced his intention to make sure all American citizens were to be vaccinated as soon as possible but it seems like mother nature didn’t agree with this. The deep freeze has put a temporary roadblock(hopefully) into the president-elect’s plans. Shipment delays were seen not just in Texas but in areas of Illinois, California, New Jersey, New York City, Utah, Washington, and Oregon, among other states leading to most appointments being delayed or rescheduled. There were also increased efforts towards using the vaccines which were already available due to the power outage. This effort was more or less successful thankfully and there was reportedly minimum spoilage of vaccines. As of Thursday, the C.D.C. said about 41 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 16.2 million people who have been fully vaccinated.
Celebrity singer Beyonce’s BeyGOOD Foundation, Adidas, and Houston disaster relief organization Bread of Life have teamed up to provide assistance to storm victims. Texas residents affected by the storm can apply for up to $1,000 in financial aid. People can also donate to Bread of Life to provide further assistance to those in need. The storm bought out the various weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the administration, considering how unprepared they were and how badly the pandemic had affected the people.
How you can help: (sourced from NYTimes)-
Texas: The Houston Food Bank, The Austin Disaster Relief Network, and Front Steps, an Austin-based organization
Oklahoma: The Homeless Alliance, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Louisiana: The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness & Housing and the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana
We implore you to look up these organizations and ensure these match your own values and beliefs before making any donation, whatever the amount. We hope you take the time to help out the millions suffering at the moment.