The Effect and Aftermath of Uri

Tiona Clark , Student

On the week of February 8th, 2021, local news warned Texans of a potential storm brushing through several states. Texans were urged to stock essentials such as water and canned goods as well as prepare outdoor pipes for freezing temperatures. Texas was expected to reach records lows not seen since the 1800’s.

The days leading up to storm Uri were typical of Texas, with many resident’s remaining indoors. Local internet providers warned residents of potential outages. Energy companies sent mass text messages asking residents to preserve power as they were expecting a series of temporary blackouts.

Nights before storm Uri, stores continued to stay open to provide access to rose bouquets and valentine’s day gifts in preparation of the year’s biggest holiday for lovers. Texans were unaware of the damage Uri would bring within the following days.  In the early morning of February 15, the temperatures reached lows of 14 degrees and many Texans woke up to freezing temperatures and complete darkness.

Power outages across the state of Texas were being reported to Center Point Energy; a gas provider and electricity distribution company assigned to service most Texas energy companies. Leaving the state powerless caused many unseen communication problems that created a logistical problem for repair and utility servicing companies.

The city of Houston was plagued with food shortages and lines around the corner for the few groceries stores with the manpower to open their doors. Select HEB grocery stores were giving away food to customers unable to pay for their groceries with cash. Many fast-food restaurants remained closed due to inclement weather leaving the city with little to no hot prepared meals.

Emergency first responders such as fire fighters, police, and ambulatory services were stretched thin due to the alarming numbers of statewide automotive accidents. Texans were plagued with the not so common weather phenomena known as Black Ice. This thin coating of clear ice on roads and bridges left many streets inaccessible due to the loss of traction. Trucks holding food or medical supplies to be restocked were delayed by days. Due to the breakdown of Texas fragile infrastructure, it was now declared a state of emergency.

Homes experienced water damage caused by frozen pipes leaving many cold, hungry, and without shelter. Local churches were forced to take in displaced Texans during a violent pandemic, putting more Americans at risk. Hotels were filled to capacity

Storm Uri claimed lives and brought attention to an existing deregulation issue of the Texas energy grid. Leaving many asking how and why we were unable to weather this storm. The Electronic Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a private three-member board responsible for Texas’ public utility system is now being sued in a class action lawsuit by many Texans who believe the harm done was preventable. With a death toll still rising, 58 deaths have been confirmed in the state of Texas. There is no word on when or how things will change in the future, but we are certain that “Texas Strong” is more than a phrase, it is a fact.