We survived

The weather event that Texas went through the other week was one for the record books, in many ways. Did people die from this cold? Apparently yes. Not the best outcome. Why did people die? Well, from what I can tell it was a variety of reasons. For some it was literally the cold – they lost power, some for pretty much the entire week. Houses got down to the 30-40’s inside the house. Some had no water for days. The cold, no heat or power, no water, no way to safely warm themselves, no way to get out, and no way to get help – from what I can tell, those were reasons for deaths in this cold event. I’m sure there were other reasons too.

For those that live in cold climates, you may wonder why this was such a big deal. Basically it came down to preparedness. How do you prepare for something you don’t know? If you’ve never lived through an earthquake, all the information you can be told, all the videos you can watch don’t really prepare you for the actual reality. Also you may have expectations. If you think you can just call for help, how does that happen when cell towers are down? How do you charge your cell phone if you have no power? Most people never think about these things.

And when I say people, I’m not just talking about citizens. It applies to companies too. Disaster planning requires quite a bit of thought. If you have no water and you can’t get to a store, what do you do? You can’t use a hose as there’s no water. If you don’t keep water on hand, how do you get water? What do you drink?

I’m not talking about survivalist training, nor having a basement filled to the brim with items just for the end of the world. But most people seem to not understand, nor prepare at all for something to happen. Except things do happen. And no I don’t have any great suggestions. The information is told to people, its available online, there are a lot of ways to find it. But preparing take work, and not everyone can easily do that. Sometimes resources are just not there for people.

I am sorry people died. I was stuck inside too. Alone. And my power went off and on too. So I had to make do too.

But back to the garden. Such was the snow and ice event in central Texas. Now we just wait and see what plants survive. The good news is it doesn’t really look like I lost a lot of them. Most of the succulents took this cold hard and they may not survive. And I think the tomatoes are dead. But surprisingly, a lot of plants seem to have survived. Now its just wait and see.

Still cold

Well its another cold day in Texas. Its now Wednesday Feb 17, 2021 and we’ve made it through two storms with one more on the way.

Texas has not taken these storms well. Texas has its own power grid and is not equipped to handle this kind of weather, especially since its basically covered the entire state, top to bottom and side to side. I understand even Corpus Christi, by the coast, got snow. I did hear they are planning on calling in help from other states that know how to handle this kind of weather. Lets hope that is true.

I spent part of this time without electricity, it would come on for a while (15 minutes to 4 hours), then go off for a while (2 hours to 4 hours). Think of it as rolling black outs. I had some freezing of a pipe in my garage (from my water softener to the house). It was enough to keep water from entering the house. I was able to thaw it enough to get my water back. I put a space heater aimed at the pipes and left it there for an hour. I was lucky. Even though the power went off, it was enough to thaw the pipe and water began dripping in the faucets. I was actually able to get water dripping in all the faucets. So now I have water again.

Some people have been without water since Monday. Some houses are in the 40’s inside the house because of no electricity. And the state does not yet know when everything will be back to normal.

SO what does this have to do with gardening you ask. Well, think about this. If you have plants outside, covered, maybe you have lights wrapped around them for warmth, those lights require electricity to be on and provide that warmth. No electricity, no lights. Those plants that you have in the greenhouse, again probably with some sort of heater, no longer have that heater. Those seedlings under grow lights don’t have grow lights that are on. And of course you cannot water anything if you don’t have water. Even you indoor plants may take a hit if they have no water and no warmth. Your first concern in these kinds of circumstances is your own survival first, you can replace plants.

Which brings us back to gardening. At this point, all those lovely plants I had outside in pots, even those up against the house are now probably dead. Since I got 7 inches of snow on my deck, and had snow blown all the way up to the house itself, the area next to the house got down into the 20’s, I expect I will be replacing a lot of plants.

I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to just start over, to a degree. I still have raised beds, nothing in one, and seedlings and swiss chard in the other, and I expect nothing will survive this cold. Considering we had one morning where the temperature was 2F, I don’t expect anything in the garden to survive. Maybe I’ll be happily surprised. I’m not sure if my grass even survived. We’ll see.

Not so funny stories. One friend has been staying with someone, no power. Where they are at is down to 43 degrees. Another friend has been without power and they are down to 45 degrees. A news caster mentioned that the TV station offered to put everybody up in a hotel a couple of blocks from the station. Some people took them up on the offer, some did not. One guy who did not said he got home and his place was in the low 40’s because he still had no power.

Since we are two storms down and one more to go, we’ll see how people fare. Grocery store shelves are empty, and grocery stores are on very reduced hours (maybe noon to 5).  Roads vary from ice covered impassable to slush, to this is drivable albeit slowly.

And Sunday we expect to be back into the 60’s.

NOTE UPDATE: they are saying as of 5pm today, Austin has now hit 122 hours at 32 or below. Also, I misspoke, we are in our fifth storm in 7 days. They may be counting since the beginning last Thursday.

Cold and getting colder

Okay, Texas is seeing temperatures that are record breaking cold. The cold we started with three days ago is getting even colder. Right now, Sunday Valentines Day, 6pm, it is 19 degrees going for a low of 9 tonight. We are due for snow, which is currently falling ever so small flakes, and blizzard conditions. They are talking about ice and snow accumulations of 5-8 inches.

This was what the forecast was yesterday. Today its not looking any better.

Its strange to see the differences.

We’ve been doing okay here at the house so far. But the suggestion is not to go out, and considering my deck is currently 26, I’m not holding out much hope for things to survive. But the house is still warm, I have power, so I can’t complain. Of course I have more than enough food so I’m not going to starve. Hopefully everything stays on.

One thing I do have to laugh about is usually trash goes out tonight, for pick up Monday morning. But as of right now, 6pm, I can only see two houses with trash out. And I’m not one of them. I’m not going to worry about it. I haven’t seen a car on the road today, and I haven’t seen anybody out walking their dogs. Trying to get my dogs out to the grass hasn’t been easy. They look at me as if I’m nuts, as if to say “mom, you do know how cold it is out there??” They’ve had a couple of accidents, and under the circumstances I’m not making a fuss.

But they will need baths when it warms up.