After living in Chicago for over 7 decades there are things that one just takes for granted. Crowds, crime, brutal weather, wind, and of course politics and politicians that sometimes resemble being in the audience at a Circus. Local politicians never miss an opportunity to shut up. Corruption is so rampant that at one time back-to-back Governors were in Federal prisons at the same time. It is so prevalent that John Kass, a Tribune columnist, held a contest to rename Illinois from its current “LAND OF LINCOLN” The winner was no surprise to anyone. “WILL THE DEFENDANT PLEASE RISE?” was the overwhelming choice. Another inescapable reality in the Windy City of course is the weather.
I remember in 1967 when my Dad passed away we were not able to hold services or burial for him for 11 days due to the crippling snowstorm. But somehow Chicago being the City of big shoulders and its indefatigable people they soldier on. So a weather forecast of 7 inches of snow and 5 degrees above zero draws very little attention and life and plans are not altered one bit. Ho-hum another cold day and snow. Now take that forecast of 7 inches of snow and 5-degree temperatures to Texas and this is what happens. An emergency of catastrophic proportions. Below is a typical scene throughout the State.
Texas is a state with 29 million people, we live in its capital Austin, which has a population of 951,000 folks. Almost immediately bad things started to happen, first, we lost power, then we lost water, for 8 days we were at the mercy of the power company’s ROLLING BLACKOUTS, who were trying desperately to cope. Our daughter and her husband went for days without power, now they have no water. They are typical of millions of other Texans throughout Texas. We represent maybe 50% that have at least some hours of power due to the Rolling Blackouts. Up until today, day 6 we had no showers, no toilets that worked, and no drinking water. Use your imagination, and ask yourself what you would do? I won’t go into details. The eyes of Texas are upon you.
So far over 58 folks have died because of the extreme cold and snow. First, they have no salt, no snowplows, no snow shovels, they have no DIBS (saving a shoveled parking space with an object) warming shelters were a foreign idea to handle the homeless who were left to do what they do best, survive on their own for the first few days when the temperatures stubbornly huddled well below freezing. Schools of course were closed, stores were closed, every Walmart in the state was closed due to not having power. Many Suburban Police Departments were closed, imagine calling 911 and the dispatcher tells you they are closed till further notice, Cops could not make it into work, and they had no power. They don’t plow roads they close them. The fireman who were on duty when the storm hit stayed on duty.
Of course, during any type of emergency people will do things that defy logic. Folks died from bringing their grills inside for heat and cooking, folks who had some power, left their gas stoves run until they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. People died in their running cars in garages trying to keep warm or charge cell phones. People were found dead in their homes and yards, from hypothermia. Thousands and thousands of trees litter entire neighborhoods across the state. At least 2 of ours have so far collapsed from the weight of the snow and ice.
Something went very wrong here in Texas, the Blame game will go on and on, in a desperate search to find a scapegoat, but the fact is an act of God sometimes limits the search. Right now as I write this the power is back on full- time, we have restored our water supply. Thank God for extension cords and hairdryers. The weather now is creeping back to the 50s and all indications are it will resume its normal 70s in a few days. Still, lots of folks are in real trouble, water lines have broken and lots of power grids still have not been restored. Chicago called the City of Big shoulders can certainly take a bow and so can its hardy and Indefatigable people. My wife and I are proud to once having lived among you. Chicago and other cities in America that face similar weather rather routinely have reduced other States and big cities into 3rd world countries. Hook Em Horns. Yea! we are officially Texans, we have big hats and no cattle and no snow-fighting equipment either.
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