'My Three Kids and I Survived the Texas Storm With No Power or Water'

When I first heard it was going to snow in Dallas, I was excited by the prospect. We've gotten our hopes up before, just to have them dashed by a light dusting that melts in a matter of minutes. My Texas-born-and-raised children have never seen real snow on our home turf and visions of sledding and building snowmen danced in my head.

The wonderment and enthusiasm were short-lived, as it quickly escalated from magical winter wonderland to snowpocalypse. Temperatures began to plummet. We were notified that our water and power were in limited supply. We also received word our water was unsafe and must be brought to a rolling boil for at least two minutes before consuming.

I began to panic. My husband is a physician, so he was at the hospital dealing with the fallout from the storm there. I was home, enduring the crisis alone with three small children.

"Uh oh!", I would hear my six-year-old say. I'd race in to find a burst pipe and water gushing out everywhere. Calling an emergency plumber was not how I envisioned spending my day, but then again neither was boiling snow to make a cup of coffee or breaking off ice from the pool to put in the toilet tank just to flush. But there we were.

"Just get out the snowplows!" my relatives from the Midwest suggested. To them, snow and freezing temperatures are just par for the course during the winter. "We don't have snowplows," I told them, "That's the problem." A typical winter day in Texas is 60º and maybe 40º if things get really bad. I usually don't even wear a winter coat. This weather is unheard of and it has become evident that our state was woefully unprepared for this.

As the days went by, the lack of power, water and gas in Texas reached epic proportions, with the largest forced blackout in history.

Water and sprinkler pipes could not withstand the intense temperatures and burst left and right, causing extensive damage and uninhabitable living conditions. Mirrors cracked from the extreme cold. Thinking about the cost of repairing all this made my head hurt.

These challenges have taught us critical lessons in resilience. We got resourceful and utilized our grill to make some, ahem, interesting cuisine. Fortunately, our pantry was reasonably well-stocked, so we didn't go hungry, but we did have to get creative with our culinary creations. Who knew that graham crackers with frosting and tuna were delicious? Just kidding. They're disgusting.

As our food supply dwindled, we laced up our snow boots and trudged out to the grocery store only to find it closed. We kept going and finally found an open store but most of the shelves were bare. It was a jarring sight and brought back some haunting memories of last spring and the beginning of the pandemic stockpiling.
I was inside, working on another round of boiling water when I peered out and saw my boys looking at the pool, which was mostly a solid ice chunk. I could tell they were intrigued by it and I could see where it was headed. Just as I began to open my mouth to warn them not to stand on it, my middle child did just that and fell through the ice. We grabbed him just in time and pulled him to safety. The same thing happened to my friend's dog, but she was not so lucky: no one saw her fall in.

On day six, things seemed to be looking up and I started to gain some hope for the first time. Some of the snow appeared to be melting and it appeared we were turning a corner. Unfortunately, the temperatures plunged again, causing all that slush to turn to ice and I took a bad fall.

Neighbors rally together

The astounding thing is, despite all that has happened, we are among the fortunate. Things can be replaced, but people cannot; and so many have lost their lives. While all of us were suffering, the vulnerable were in even greater danger. There were roughly 27,000 unhoused persons living in our great state at serious risk, with no shelter.

The importance of community has never been more evident. Our neighbors rallied together to share whatever information, resources, and encouragement we could muster, and it was truly magnificent to witness. My mother lives alone and has had sporadic heat and water. We managed to drop off some food for her and her neighbor had some dog food to spare. The stores are out of milk, and my sweet neighbor had an extra jug, so she left it for my toddler.

I've had many calls and texts from concerned family and friends checking in on us and offering help. We were forced to put aside our fears about contracting and spreading Covid and prioritize survival to house our friends and neighbors. And they did the same for us. A crisis like this truly brings out the best in humanity.

This experience has forced me to reckon with our first-world privilege and it has been a hard pill to swallow. I've had to take a hard look at the lavish amenities most of us enjoy and don't even think twice about. Previously, the word "luxuries" would conjure up images of Chanel handbags and Rolex watches. Now it evokes things like being able to turn on the faucet and assume clean drinking water will come out—seems like a given to most of us, but to a huge chunk of the world, it is not. Ditto for flushing the toilet, or having a warm, comfortable place to rest at night.

Tomorrow is a better day. And hopefully, a warmer day. Your friends in the Lone Star State are hardy folks and we will be okay. Actually, we will be better than okay, and I think we learned a thing or two about emergency disaster preparedness. Previously, my strategy for emergencies entailed closing my eyes and pretending everything is fine—and then screaming into the abyss. Weirdly, this didn't prove to be overly helpful during the storm and it became evident a better plan was necessary going forward. We now have a "just in case" case filled with essential items and a clearer understanding of what survival entails.

I'm not usually one to wax poetic about a crummy situation but being one of the millions without basic resources has given me a fresh perspective and forced me to come to face-to-face with some hard truths. When I look back on this time, I will feel pride for myself and my fellow Texas brethren and sistren. We came together and rose up and did what had to do.

Despite all the hardships we've been dealt, we will persevere and be stronger for it. Even though I'm grateful for the life lessons, I am happy to see this storm pass. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Uri. And while you're at it, take your buddy COVID with you.

Bio: Christina Crawford is a writer, guacamole enthusiast, and a hypochondriac. She lives in Dallas with her husband and three young boys. Her words have appeared on HuffPost, Scary Mommy, Today Parents, and more. You can follow her on Twitter at @Xtina_Crawford.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.