Of all the years in my memory, snowmageddon 2021 (the name coined for February 14-19, 2021 in Texas) stands to remain the winter to remember–forever.
I always say we’re more likely to experience a white Valentine’s Day than a white Christmas. A native Texan, I know what winters look like. The coldest days wait for January and February, although they sometimes linger into March. If your new Easter outfit has no sleeves, you can count on a Blue Northern to blow in that Saturday night too. Not many years ago, my sister photographed bluebonnets (a decidedly spring flower) surrounded by snow. It happens. Those moments produce a winter to remember.
In 60 years, I have witnessed single-digit temperatures, but usually not with precipitation. This year, I saw zero and below in our area—a first for me. Texas experienced the coldest day on record since 1899, and the coldest 3-day record ever. I also saw rolling blackouts for the first time in my life and people go without power or water for more than a week. I’m lucky. We had a half-day of no power, rolling blackouts for a few days following. When the blackouts ended, we lost water for the better part of two days.
Was I prepared? Partially. Nowhere near the amount required.
We had firewood, oil for a decorative oil-lamp, a few gallons of water and one case of bottled water. Plenty of food, small space heaters, one indoor propane heater, and lots of warm clothes, blankets and quilts. For that, I am grateful, and ecstatic that my house has a wood-burning fireplace. Without it…
In reflecting, I can whine about the harsh conditions. Mine can’t compare with that of people I know. My pipes survived. Why do I need to complain? Were we uncomfortable? Sure. For a little while. My daughter lives nearby, so we had a place to go if it got really bad. And when my water went off, she supplied me with over eight gallons, plus a long, hot shower.
In this winter to remember I like to call snowmageddon, I came away with two very important lessons.
Look for gratitude in the worst situations.
- How do you find gratitude with inches of snow and ice on the ground, no heat, and uncertainty about what comes next? Simple. Focus on the good.
- I had wood and a fireplace. Not everyone had that option.
- I had blankets, quilts, more than enough clothes to layer.
- I didn’t have to go anywhere or worry about whether I got work done—aka an understanding boss that had issues too.
- If I needed a place to stay, more than one person offered a warm bed, warm shower and hot food.
- A couple of businesses blessed people with free burgers one day.
- My daughter, who loves me, made sure I had consumable water.
- My son-in-law drives a 4-wheel drive pickup capable of getting anywhere we had to go.
- I had electricity for the most part.
- I got propane on Monday when they said it would be Thursday.
- My heater quit working, but they got a serviceman to my house to fix it. Now I know where to find that little reset button if I ever need it again.
- We had plenty of food and the means to cook a hot meal, brew coffee and prepare hot chocolate.
I can go on, but you get the idea. Gratitude isn’t always easy. I could lament about the bad stuff, but I choose not to focus on that. Instead, I want to thank God for the blessings throughout the storms.
Prepare Better in the Future
I’m fairly certain I won’t see zero on my thermometer again in my lifetime. I have no guarantee, however, that I won’t experience some other catastrophe—either man made or a natural disaster. After all, I still remember a year when tornadoes touched down mere miles from my home, and I unknowingly caught a funnel headed straight at me in a photograph. Talk about an eerie feeling when you look at a picture the next day.
By looking at where we lacked preparation, I can do better. As I prayed over what God wanted me to learn from snowmageddon, I kept hearing “prepare.” We are to be ready in and out of season. Does that mean I go crazy, rush out and purchase survival packs? Maybe. Probably not. Still, these are some takeaways for me.
- When my propane tank reaches 20%, request a delivery. Don’t wait a day or two, which may turn into a week. Just because it took a month to deplete 10% last time doesn’t mean that will be the case if extreme cold pummels Texas.
- Stock more firewood than I think we need. If power goes out, your life may depend on having a fire burning constantly.
- Consider purchasing a generator. A small space heater can be critical, and having a way to charge a phone may be the only way to stay connected.
- Always have extra water on hand. We typically have two to three gallons in the fridge at any given time. Having a few sealed jugs isn’t a bad idea. Don’t depend on anyone else to provide water—they may or may not have it to give.
- Always keep enough non-perishable foods to last several days.
- Have a way to cook food. A small propane camp stove or grill that runs on charcoal or wood can also boil water. Make sure to have the required supplies to use these items.
- Have a kettle or large pan in case you need to boil water.
- Purchase an oil lamp, wicks, and oil plus matches or a lighter of some sort. Check them often to make sure they work properly.
- Make sure you have extra batteries and flashlights readily available and easy to reach. It isn’t fun to find yourself in a bathroom when the power shuts down.
- Most important, prepare mentally and spiritually. All things come to pass. Panicking does no one any good. Keep your cool. Comfort those around you. I’m sure I could find more I learned, but this is enough for now.
In my winter to remember, snowmageddon 2021, I hold in my heart a precious memory. Around 7:00 p.m. each evening, the lights shut down for 30-45 minutes. I calmly lit my oil lamp. My grandchildren, who live at my house for now, gathered around, snuggled under blankets, and we told stories, imagining what life looked like before electricity.
In the end, we concurred. We adore electricity and running water. Yes, we are spoiled. I’m okay with that, but I never want to take for granted the simplest things in life. Food, water, shelter—and electricity. I thank God for these blessings and pray that in another winter to remember, I get to be the one who helps someone else.