By Leilani Quintero, Nina Galindo-Calvete, and Riley Hilbert
APR. 23, 2020
February 2021, only one month into the new year, Texas was hit with what is considered to be the worst natural disaster the state has ever faced. For weeks, many have been stripped of electricity, homes have been destroyed, and lives have been changed forever. In late fall, meteorologists predicted that during October and November, Texas would face a dry winter, and that the temperatures would only drop in late January, if even. This unexpected catastrophe has left Texas in a state of emergency with unbearable and impossible conditions. Over 4 million people have reported loss of power, and 22 deaths have been connected to the storm.
The beginning of the storm caused ice to freeze over the roads and highways and a thick fog to permeate the air, resulting in the fatal 135 car pile-up on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth, Texas. This tragedy occurred on Thursday February 11, 2021 and expanded over half of a mile; resulting in a major crash which caused over 60 deaths and dozens of injuries. Because of the speed on the highway and the wetness of the ice, the cars were unable to come to a complete stop before crashing into whatever was around them. It took responders hours to count the vehicles and assess the damage. Many cars were crushed by 18 wheelers and other large vehicles.
Schools in San Antonio began announcing campus closings for Friday, February 12. Later in the day, Governor Greg Abott declared the situation disastrous in all 254 Texas counties. Texas homes are built to handle heat and hurricanes– not snow and ice. Waking up to 6 inches of snow was quite a shock to the people of Texas, seeing as it is the most snow they have seen since 1985. By Wednesday, February 2, almost 3 million citizens suffered without power as reparation progress was delayed by icy rain and heavy snow.
The death toll and extent of damage are said to be possibly undeterminable for months. So far, at least 26 deaths throughout the state have been reported, and first responders are continuing to search for more. Many families were left without food or warmth, and were unable to buy groceries due to the snow and icy roads. Not only did this affect the well being of the entire state of Texas, it delayed progress in combating COVID-19. Vaccine shipments were put on hold, as well as testing centers. Citizens compared this disaster to that of a hurricane, but the only difference was that they were not at all prepared for it. As Texas begins to recover from this travesty, many keep them in prayers while also offering aid. Schools around the country have hosted donations and food drives to help alleviate the damage this storm has caused.