It was amazingly cold when I got up this morning but the television newscasters tell me it's going to be even colder tonight. Then we have three more days that are warmer, but still below freezing, to look forward to. I re-wrapped and re-insulated exterior pipes today, resuscitated a toilet and created some wind breaks to lower the likelihood of more damage from wind chills that are forecast to be anywhere from minus five to minus 15 degrees over night. But I count myself among the lucky Texans. We still have power, we still have a functional, gas powered furnace and we still have running water throughout the house. We're working on rehabbing the exterior faucets as well.
I did have the foresight to buy two pounds of organic, medium roast, Columbian Supremo coffee just before the roads became impassible and we're pounding through that with reckless abandon. The fridge and pantry are fully stocked so we're eating well and could probably shelter in place for a couple of weeks before running totally out of provisions. Our supply of wines is also adequate. And yes, we have chocolate.
After getting everything as well set as I could I bundled up and took advantage of the warmer temperatures near the end of the day and walked up to the small shopping center at the end of our neighborhood. I once again brought along the Fuji X100V and was very pleased with the color and overall look of the casual files I made.
I have a number of friends who've been unfortunate enough to have lost power in the middle of the night last night. It's 11 pm here and they're still waiting for power, or at least an estimate of when their power will be turned back on. I'm learning that, in some respects, old tech can be better than the latest stuff. Case in point. My friend Paul lost power late last night. His water heater is one of the "on demand" heaters. It uses gas, like my old fashioned water heater but it requires electrical power to control temperature and maintain safe operation. No electricity, no hot water.
The city of Austin and ERCOT, the body that controls electrical distribution in Texas, have totally dropped the ball in this emergency. They originally stated that they were going to do rolling black outs which would last only 45 minutes per area. Once they got into the process they found that they couldn't bring people back on line because they'd actually lost, across the state, the ability to generate enough electricity. This was not a case of downed power lines that got iced up. They just didn't push all the smaller generating parties to adequately winterize, even though it's a mandated part of the program. Seems like someone wanted to save a bit of cash and now something like 2.5 million people in the Lone Star state will spend a couple of nights with sub-freezing temperature and absolutely no heat or lights. Sitting in running cars to charge cellphones has now become an Austin thing. Heads should roll for the lack of oversight, but they won't.
In a nod to basic survival the city and county have opened up one on the big, municipal convention venues, the Palmer Center, as a heating station for regular people who just happened to have found themselves without heat and without other options. Wouldn't you know it? The hotels booked up quickly. Especially the nice ones.
It really sucks but you can't really push back on Mother Nature, and ultimately, that's the real problem here.
This is the last image I saw before I walked in the door and called it a night.
Looking west up over my front door.
This was the sign on our neighborhood Walgreens Pharmacy.
This place is normally quite busy but every shop was closed and it was like a ghost town.
This is our place. The building in the front, just left of center, is my office and studio.
It's a nice space with lots of room but the one thing we never invested in was a good
heating system. I guess that's going to change now.
I feel so powerless in situations like this. I'm waiting for the big thaw to see how many pipes will burst and how quickly I can turn off the main cutoff for water. Then we'll need to join what I think will be a very long queue to find a plumber. I'm sure it's going to take some time so I'm already looking at hotels because I don't think, at this stage in our lives, that we really want to go days and days without plumbing. Not to mention that we're still socially distancing because of the pandemic.
But as Belinda constantly reminds me: It could be a hell of a lot worse.
Leave those faucets dripping and pull out the down comforters. I can't imagine how people dealt with this kind of stuff 100 or 200 years ago. At least I've got some fun, weather resistant cameras and lenses to play with.
Be safe and warm. Lights out. KT