If you’re unaware, that is, if you were living on top of a faraway mountain with no access to national or international news, or if you’re reading this far into the future and have forgotten, the polar vortex slid down into Texas, all the way to the Rio Grande, late on Valentine’s Day, or early on President’s Day, 2021. The pleasant, if unseasonably warm weather here in North Texas, turned, became wildly and very unusually cold. In the wee hours of the 16th, the temperature dropped to 1℉ (-17℃), with a high on Tuesday of 7… 7. And between the 15th and 19th, the temperature hovered in the low to mid teens and we got about 10 inches of snow.
I knew it was coming, sorta. I mulched our younger trees the week before and we stocked up on some groceries early, but I had no idea how bad it was going to get, and it got really bad locally and all over the state. The power grid failed, water systems failed, water pipes burst all over. We had it easy, really, and made it through relatively unscathed; many others had it much, much harder.
I almost didn’t share this at all. I don’t want to distract from any attention those less fortunate than I, don’t want to profit off of anyone’s misery. I’m ashamed of how my state handled the event and feel a bit sheepish about how easy we had it here, in this house, but I’m proud of the ways people and communities came together to help one another.
And rather than reading this, rather than looking at my bad Instax and zInk prints and Polaroids, why not go donate to the North Texas Food Bank or the Central Texas Food Bank or the Houston Food Bank or some other food bank or social services agency in your area. Every dollar helps; every view of these pictures or these words does nothing, really.
If you’ve found your way back from doing something to help my neighbors (or yours), then, well, thank you! And please enjoy:
It doesn’t look like much. Anywhere else in the country it wouldn’t be much. But this part of Texas doesn’t get this cold. 28? Sure. 25? Maybe. 18? On occasion. But 7? 5? 1? Never. And while my wife and I were mostly prepared, the state just wasn’t. Again, if you’ve paid any attention to the news, you know about all our issues: power plants and water treatment plants froze, leaving something like 4 million without power; water mains, sprinklers, water pipes froze and burst, leaving whole counties without water and nearly destroying houses. A dozen people died of exposure, mostly in their homes.
Part of the issue was how fast it came on. We had a beautiful sunset Sunday night, as the temperature started to fall, and Monday morning, there was snow on the ground and it was in the mid teens.
The temperature fell all day, but we had heat, fire, hot chocolate, running water.
The bunny couldn’t go outside: it was too cold, his teddy was frozen near solid. But he got to run around the kitchen for a few days, and didn’t seem bothered in the least.
It got colder and colder, with a low of 1 on Tuesday (and a high of 7), and while it warmed a bit, we got between 6 and 8 inches of snow on Wednesday.
We lost hot water for a day, and the internet went out for three, but I was able to work through my work phone hot spot with no issues at all, and still have a collection of DVDs that work fine through an old Playstation, so we didn’t lack for anything.
Well… Pebbles missed his teddy some, but that was the worst of it…
For us, it was easy, but just next door, our neighbors came home from visiting their new, first grand baby, and found that their home fire suppression sprinkler system had ruptured from the cold and rained water all over their entire house for 2 or 3 days. They’ve had to throw out much of their furniture and flooring, some walls will have to be replaced, and it’ll likely be months before they can move back in.
Allah is the only provider, and He led them to a safe and clean, furnished temporary home just around the corner. And, God willing, their home will be restored completely, will be even better than it was before this disaster.
On Friday, we finally got above freezing, and by Sunday it was 70℉/21℃ and sunny, and other than a bit of snow in shady spots, and the fact that millions were still going without power, and many thousands without potable water, you wouldn’t know it was ever cold, even.
Meanwhile, we’re all safe and dry, with plenty of clean water to drink and bathe in, our bills haven’t skyrocketed, the lights and heat never wavered, and I got the picture I wanted:
All praise and thanks belong to God, as always.
Climate Change is real and we all need to take more seriously. We also need to do something about our elected officials and our government’s willingness to help the less fortunate. That anyone has to depend on nonprofit food banks to survive, that has to boil water to make it safe to drink, that has to sit in their car to keep warm in the winter, in 2021 is an absolute travesty, and we should all be ashamed.
I know the lefties are quite unpopular for all the shaming of everyone that we do. And I know the demagogues are quite popular for giving permission. Shame is hard to deal with; changing oneself is work, and it’s painful. But if we won’t hold our leaders accountable, if we keep electing leaders who’d rather go to Cancun than help warm the freezing children, we’ll keep seeing things like the Polar Vortex in Texas and the other myriad natural and manmade and social disasters, and may God guide us to be better to ourselves and each other.