Residents face power, water, road issues
Ice and snow from Winter Storm Uri threw a passel of curveballs at Highland Lakes residents this past week, creating conditions which hampered the state’s electrical grid, brought down tree branches on houses and cars, froze water pipes and made roads impassable.
In fact, below freezing temperatures in place for more than 140 consecutive hours in the Hill Country and Central Texas even set a new all-time record for longest stretch of arctic temps, eclipsing the mark set in December 1983, according to David Yeomans, KXAN meteorologist.
More than 4 million Texas citizens lost their electricity at some time during the past five days, including more than 140,000 in the Pedernales
Electric Cooperative service territory as the state’s electrical grid operators forced service providers to conduct mandatory rolling blackouts.
Many residents of Burnet and Llano counties were left in the dark and cold for hours at a time as damage to infrastructure and not rolling blackouts kept them from having any electricity — and in many cases, heat — in their homes. At times, power would return intermittently for a few minutes, only to cycle on and off. This prevented heaters from kicking on and warming houses and a number of people even reported the temperatures in their houses dropping into the 40s and, in some cases, the 30s.
The loss of power caused failures at water plants in Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Cottonwood Shores and at both the Kingsland Water Supply Corporation and Corix-controlled facilities, leading to boil water notices being issued for those fortunate enough to even have water. A loss of water pressure, along with cold temperatures, also caused pipes to burst, flooding homes already plagued by cold and darkness.
Snow on roadways, bridges and overpasses melted from passing traffic in the daytime, but refroze into ice in the evening, causing vehicles to slide off roadways and into ditches. Some of the more treacherous road stretches — Park Road 4 and Ranch to Market Road 1431 at Lookout Mountain in Kingsland — were shut down for periods of time to traffic because they were too hazardous for travel. First responders, road crews and wrecker operators worked long stretches of time away from their families to rescue motorists and help those in need.
Grocery stores like Walmart and H-E-B encountered long lines and shortages of groceries and other goods due to abbreviated, delayed or canceled deliveries.
Through it all, residents showed great creativity and ingenuity. Terra cotta pots and candles were MacGuyvered into impromptu space heaters to warm homes. Residents collected snow and ice to fill toilets and to save for consumption.
The storm also brought out human kindness and decency with businesses and organizations donating food and water to those in need and helping those who were cold find shelter for warmth.