Winter 2 Electric Boogaloo
“Snow day” has odd connotations in the South. It conjures to mind no school, panic buying at stores, and a general agreement among all drivers to forget road laws and general decency as everyone either crawls at a snail’s pace or careens past at twenty over. It also generally comes with many acclimated to cold weather mocking those overreacting for a mere layer of frost on the ground, maybe a few flakes if we’re lucky. I myself have lived in Texas my entire life, and have only visited more northern parts of the country during the Summer months. Before the freeze, the most I’ve ever seen were hail storms, so I speak as someone who was as unprepared for this as our state and local governments were.” The first night when it began, wandering about, hearing tree branches snap and trying not to slip and break my nose, I was in something approaching awe, not only at the beauty, but at how quickly things fell apart. In my head, I was convinced that would absolutely be the worst of it. Just more frost, power outages, and some slick spots on concrete, that’s all. But once again, I can safely say that I was among the most unprepared for what was about to happen over the course of the next few daysStill with no power, I opened my blinds that next morning to what looked like a Christmas Card in the middle of Texas. It was that picturesque beauty, at least in my case, that helped me get through the mental strain of the following events as students and townsfolk suffered through impassable roads, food shortages and lack of heat. I personally learned to be very grateful that my building in Lords retained plumbing. Upon visiting my aunt and uncle who live ten minutes away and had power, but not water, I made the discovery that flushing a toilet manually frankly sucks. It wasn’t just the cold or hunger, there was something crushing about not only living in quarantine, but genuinely trapped indoors and having little to eat. It reminded me of the first days of the pandemic, being too afraid to go literally anywhere. And yet, many others as well as myself took solace in the beauty and novelty outside our doors. I remember the simple joy of walking out to take the trash out, an arduous chore in this weather, and seeing an honest to god snowman. It was a moment that blew my mind, as I myself am a huge fan of the Christmas season (Christmas movies in particular) and here was my college campus looking like the set of It’s a Wonderful Life. I’d have liked it a bit better during Christmas time, but it was still wonderful. Having a true snowball fight with my uncle and making hot chocolate when I had power were some of the things that kept the serotonin going amidst the natural disaster. It couldn’t fully distract me from the suffering of hearing about bursting pipes in my building or how sometimes the only way to escape the cold was a hot shower. Despite that, the scenery gave me an escape. Overall, there was good that came out of the snow week. Plenty of great memories were made, but it doesn’t change the fact that the general consensus seems to be that we survived a historic event similar to living through a severe hurricane, complete with property damage, and even deaths statewide. Major flaws in the power grid were revealed, as well as the state’s inability to handle extreme weather of this variety and magnitude. While it’s valid to say that colleges and city and state services don’t really have contingencies for this sort of thing because of the sheer improbability they’ll occur, as the mini winter confirmed, it pays to be prepared.