Despite all of our technological progress and modernized systems, record low temperatures have brought much of the U.S. to its knees. There has been a major disruption on Texas’ power grid, where numerous pipes that weren’t designed to handle such icing temperatures have burst, and citizens were left without power and heating in their homes for days. At least 15 million Texan homes were severely affected by the breakdown and people have been desperately scrambling to find shelters to survive the freezing temperatures. The biggest part of the state is on the ERCOT power grid, which is independent from the standard U.S. power supply system, and this crisis has clearly shown how extremely vulnerable and flawed the ERCOT electric network can be during an emergency.
The domino effect of blackouts and power outages has caused some critical infrastructure problems, also interrupting the operations of cellular networks and water treatment plants. Evidently, Texas isn’t the only state suffering due to the ravaging chillwave. The Southwest Power Pool, which controls a grid spanning 14 states, has ordered rotating power outages to happen over the next several days. As a consequence of the power shortages, the tremendous amount of demand for a limited amount of supply has sent natural gas prices to insanely high levels.
ZeroHedge has posted a very detailed article attempting to show “the speed at which one of the nation’s wealthiest states has been transformed into a third-world country”. The article has reported several statements of local residents. One of them disclosed that central Texas is looking like a “refugee situation of sorts,” saying that what he’s seeing on the ground is nothing short of a disaster in the making. Many other readers commented saying that their families are camped out in the homes of those who still have power, and revealed that parents are dropping off their young children in residences that still have heat while they try to figure out how to fix the damages caused in their own homes.
Some groups started lighting charcoal grills indoors and running vehicles in garages, which has resulted in a growing number of carbon monoxide poisonings in the area. Additionally, another Texan resident signaled that over the next days much more chaos might arise. His statement reads: “Next week when things thaws out, all of that sewage is going to coat the entire state. But the worst part of it is that the current virus disease can transmit through sewage. Texas is about to become a science experiment in herd immunity. I think Texas might be on its way to becoming a Third World country.” Stores are having trouble restocking their shelves and many people have affirmed to be running out of food. Huge lines are being seen outside grocery stores across the state, but customers are reporting shortages in several items and saying most stores are placing limits to what one can purchase, which is making the lives of those with big families incredibly difficult.
As there’s no clear end in sight for the ice storm, analysts have been arguing that the power grid collapse in Texas is morphing into a humanitarian crisis that is far from over. Likewise, economic experts underlined that the country’s infrastructure is so vulnerable that all it took was a few days of very cold weather to collapse the entire power grid of one of the nation’s wealthiest states. Considering our leaders have been failing to control the health crisis for over a year, and failing to support our workers, businesses, and our economy, their unresponsiveness to this crisis shouldn’t come as a surprise. As Snyder perfectly put into words: “I would encourage you to get prepared for all of the strangeness that is in front of us, because as we have seen, the system is not nearly as stable as most people thought it was.”