SAN ANTONIO—The power gave out last Monday night. When we woke up on Tuesday morning, the temperature in the house was dipping below 50 degrees. We bundled our toddler in her warm jammies and tiny bubble coat. The gas and water were still on, so we huddled in front of the stove, boiling water for tea, hoping to raise the temperature a bit.
We were among the millions of Texans who lost power when a massive winter storm brought the temperature down to the single digits. In Houston, a woman and child accidentally suffocated themselves with carbon monoxide trying to stay warm in their car. Two people in Austin died in a fire that likely resulted from an attempt to stay warm. Here in San Antonio, a man in his 70s was found dead, apparently from exposure. Many Texans were without power, water, or both for days, left to choose between the risk of contracting COVID-19 at a shelter and the danger of freezing in their home.
I consider us fortunate. The second night, after the power went out again, we were sleeping with our daughter between us to make sure she stayed warm. We awoke to a soft roar, like the inside of a seashell, and realized that our pipes had burst and the nearby bathroom was filling with water. My wife woke up first and turned the water off before our home flooded. Our roof did not collapse. Our home did not catch fire and burn down, as nearby firefighters struggled with empty fire hydrants. We did not run out of food. We were lucky.