Communication freshman Lila Wu lost Internet access for three days during the Texas winter storm. His only option, in addition to missing class, was to go on the phone, using his cell phone data for Zoom’s classes. Although she was finally able to get into classes at a neighbor’s house, catching up on lessons and missed assignments was so stressful that she dropped out of one of the classes.
“Having no internet and not even asking for help really highlighted how much I was struggling,” said Wu.
Wu is among the millions of Texans who lost power during the storm that began on the night of February 14. Temperatures across the state have reached historic lows, with Austin and San Antonio hitting single digits for the first time in more than 30 years. At least 32 Texans died of storm-related causes, ranging from carbon monoxide poisoning to house fires and hypothermia. Cold temperatures have broken pipes in many areas, causing complications in access to water and sanitation.
Communication freshman Victoria Kim ran out of battery in her devices after her first day without power and had to recharge them in her car. She said she struggled to stay motivated and focused while doing her homework by candlelight.
Medill freshman Alice Shao said a pipe burst at her parents’ home in North Texas, causing part of the roof to explode and forcing her parents to turn off the tap. Shao, who is currently in Evanston, said that being away from home during the crisis was stressful.
“I’m here, I can’t do anything,” said Shao. “I can’t just go home and help fix a roof or help my friends. It is difficult when something is out of your reach. “
Due to the crisis, needs such as bottled water, milk and eggs have run out of stock, said Kim. Many areas have experienced food shortages, with grocery stores unable to replenish fast enough and food spoiling due to a lack of energy.
McCormick freshman Chris Woodard, a Houston native, said some stores sold packages of 24 bottles of water for $ 18 due to rising demand.
Woodard cited Texas infrastructure as the main reason the state was unprepared for the winter storm.
Natural gas, coal and nuclear power plants supply most of Texas’ energy in the winter. Power blackouts occurred due to the closure of these sources, the freezing of wind turbines and gas pipelines and the use of more heat than normal by residents. To avoid long-term damage, utilities began to program controlled and continuous blackouts.
Instead, Governor Greg Abbott attributed the blackouts to solar and wind power outages. In a segment on Fox News, he said the incident shows how “the Green New Deal would be a deadly business for the United States of America”.
Although the harsh winter does not often occur in Texas, Woodard said the state government should have been a more vocal source of support and should have enacted more emergency policies.
“Knowing that there is an incompatible belief system between these urban areas and the Texas government is kind of boring, especially since it leads to problems like this,” said Woodard.
When temperatures rose dramatically in Texas this week, energy and water crises eased in parts of the state. Dallas had a temperature rise of 83 degrees between February 16 and 23.
Even so, conditions have not returned to normal for all residents. As of Wednesday, more than a million Texans are without drinking water and thousands face the costs of damage caused by overflow pipes.
“Many families will suffer,” said Shao. “And let’s just see if the Texas legislature and state governments are really going to do something about it.”
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