*2021 Texas Ice Storm Lessons Learned*
28 February 2021
We live in the League City area. Halfway between Houston and Galveston. Monday 2/15/2021 started out like any other Monday. I got up at 02:17 AM like I do every morning. After getting dress, I was going to turn my coffee pot on. About the time I was ready to hit the start button, the power went out. The temperature was 24 degrees outside, but warm in the house and garage at that time. I only have a small 3400 watt (28 amps) generator. We only use it for hurricanes to keep the refrigerator, a small freezer, and a few fans running when we are without power. It is all we have ever needed until now. We were without electricity for 102 hours (over 4 days). The power came on around 8 AM Friday morning 2/19/2021 when the temperature had reached about 40 degrees. The neighborhood where we now live is all electric. No one has gas to their house. My wife and I have decided to buy at least a 12000 watt (100 amps) or more, generator in the near future. We may never need it again, but we will at least have it.
During last summer I discovered that 2 of my gas cans (plastic) had somehow ruptured with a small hole in the bottoms, and leaked all the gas. I kept forgetting, or putting it off, to get more gas cans to replace the ones that I had lost, and a couple of new extra cans. At least the 5 cans I had left were full at the time. We were able to get some gas on Tuesday afternoon, but I use the non-ethanol gas for almost everything from the generator to weed eater to lawnmower, and cars/truck. It is expensive, but worth it to me.
We have a fireplace that does put out some heat. However, we had less than 1/2 cord of wood and a few large logs that I had not split yet. The fireplace puts out enough heat to be almost comfortable, plus the heat helped preserve our water lines in the ceiling. Most of the houses in the Houston area only have insulation in the ceiling to protect from the summer heat. There is no insulation in the walls unless you have a custom built house. The waterlines that run through the houses are placed on top of the ceiling insulation. Also, the water comes in through the garage or front bedroom. Ours comes in through the garage outside wall. A week before the storm, we had a water leak above the dining room. Our landlord repaired the leak and repaired the sheetrock in the dining room, but did not re-cover the hole that covered the water coming into the garage. I was glad he had not re-covered that hole, and I wasn't worried because I had several small heaters to place in front of the incoming water line and one for the water heater that also sets in the garage. I rotated the power for the refrigerators and the heaters for 4 days.
On Tuesday, my boss let me know that her husband had been called into work. The refinery where he works was shut down because of no power. She said that all the refineries were either shut down or running at a very reduced capacity. I keep our car/truck full of gas, but wanted to top off everything and refill the gas cans I had used. I could have made it until the storm was over, but wanted to have more than enough. I had to drive to a large Buckey's 20 miles away to get gas. They have a large generator out back for power outages such as the one we just went through. Every pump was in use (maybe 30+ pumps). All the little gas stations that had electricity had very long lines of cars waiting to get gas except for the Buckey's. I also noticed that every fast food joint that had electricity also had a very, very long line. People just do not plan for disasters in this area such as the major cold/ice storm or hurricanes. I passed the information onto another Rubie about the refineries to share on the Rubicon for people, like me, that did not think about the refineries being shut down, and might need to get gas before everything was gone.
The Harris County Commissioner told everyone not to run their water faucets because of the cold temperatures. She said that it would put a strain on the city water system. She is 29 years old, and I do not know how she got elected. There are 15 houses on our short street/cul du sac. Some of us did run our water and had no leaks, but 8 of the houses did not, and their water lines froze and burst. At 16 degrees for many hours, you best be prepared. I agree that it would have been a little different had we lost water pressure like a lot of homes did, but I know where and how to drain all my water lines. 2 of my neighbors ran their water for a day or so, then decided to turn their water off and did not drain their lines completely. They are paying the price with many water leaks in their houses.
After all is said and done, the storm was an eye opener for me and my wife; even though we have been preparing for such things for years. Even now after 2 days of 70 degree temperature, most grocery stores still have no water, meat, frozen foods, milk, bread, and etc., but we do, and after the power came back on, my wife has cooked meals for our 2 neighbors that turned their water off. Every grocery store you drive by has a packed parking lot with people driving around waiting for someone to back out. We had plenty of bottled water, and 5 extra 5 gallon jugs of water. We also cooked on the grill and camp stoves. We keep several large extra bags of charcoal in the garage for emergencies, like hurricanes, and now ice storms. Just a note here, a lot of the gas stations and small stores did have signs that read "CASH ONLY". We always have plenty of cash on hand also. Another thing, the cell service was very poor when it worked, plus no internet service. I sent another Rubie several text that never were delivered.Pistolshooter
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