Last week was certainly an adventure, and it had me so busy that I am just now having an opportunity to tell you all about it. There are certainly lessons to be learned regarding preparedness.
Week before last we were all very excited. We were expecting snow! For those of you up north, that is just an annoyance, but this part of Texas (Dallas / Fort Worth) had not seen snow (or any measurable frozen precipitation) in over four years! My wife and I did not even know what our current neighborhood looked like with a blanket of snow. Many children in the area had not seen snow in person, or could not remember it. My adult daughter with cancer was excited to know she would see snow again in her lifetime.
My wife and I are generally prepared, we had a half cord of firewood on the back porch and food, knowing that the roads would be hazardous (Texans avoid driving on this stuff, we don’t have enough practice, and also know that the guy next to you doesn’t know how, even if you do).
Sunday came, and the snow came, and we were all very excited. My wife made video of our dogs playing in the snow. Children made snow men. The news began warning people that we might have rolling blackouts of 10 to 45 minutes at a time. No big deal, we had prepared for that. We had firewood and a lantern, and power banks for our cell phones.
Monday morning the outside temperature had gotten down to 5 degrees! That was temp for the record books here in Texas. Just then, at that 5 degree low, the power went out. We were not worried, because the rolling blackouts were only going to be 10 to 45 minutes. After 45 minutes we tried to contact Oncor (the electric delivery company), but the only method of reaching them that worked was the Oncor App. We used it to report the outage, and it gave an estimated repair time of 10:30 AM, less than two hours away at that time. So still we were OK, and we put extra wood on the fireplace fire. 10:30 AM came and went and still no power, and now the app says estimated repair time is “to be determined”. We are getting worried, as the forecast low for the coming night was a record setting low single digit (various forecasts had between 3 and 1 degrees).
At 4:00 PM Monday the power comes back on. My wife literally bursts into tears of relief, as she has been so stressed about facing the coming super low temps. I quickly put a post of spaghetti on to cook. But after only 20 minutes, the power goes out again. The spaghetti finished cooking on its own in the hot water and I warmed up the sauce in a saucepan by the fire.
Now the Oncor app gives an estimated repair time of 8:30 PM, which comes and goes and then the app says “being determined”. We are able to keep up with news with our cell phones and they are saying that power should be restored Tuesday afternoon or evening.
Monday night I manage to make dinner for us, from my childhood experience in boy scouts (when the BSA was still a great organization). I mixed ground beef, diced potatoes, green beans and corn (and seasoning) into a “blob” wrapped in aluminum foil, which I place near the hot coals of the fire. In Boy Scouts we called these “trail burgers”. They were really good.
Monday night into Tuesday morning was a trial. I was feeding as much wood into the fireplace as I could. The outside temperature plummeted to one degree below zero! (That set some kind of record). The fire from the fireplace was our only heat. That night our living room got down to 48 degrees! I never thought that I would be in my own home, literally burning firewood to survive! I knew there must be so many out there without a fireplace, or without enough firewood… that would literally freeze to death in their own homes! (More and more stories are coming out of those who did.)
Those without enough firewood, turned to burning furniture to survive!
Tuesday morning the app still says “being determined” but the news is shifting from power being restored that afternoon or evening, to “in several more days”. I did the math, and our firewood would run out by Wednesday morning. I called around, but everyone was out of firewood. We were also hearing stories that grocery store shelves were bare. Most restaurants were either without power, running out of food fast with huge lines, or closed because they were out of food. There was literally no firewood or food to be had. And on top of that, all hotels were either out of power themselves, or booked solid.
If all this was not bad enough, a second wave snow storm was headed into DFW Wednesday evening. The mayor of North Richland Hills made a video telling citizens to get out of there homes and find shelter somewhere.
I started thinking out of the box now. I thought of the cabins up at Lake Murray State Park in Oklahoma. They were just across the border into Oklahoma, about an hour and fifteen minute drive (under normal conditions). I called, and they had a cabin available. I booked it, and we packed as quickly as I could… we would be driving into the snowstorm heading our way! But we had to get out of Texas and away from the Texas power grid. The cabins have heat and a kitchen.
Lake Murray State Park used to be a “go to” spot for Sukkot events.
We drive into the snow on I-35 (the same highway where icy roads had recently caused a 120 car pile up and eight deaths.) About halfway there the snowfall became intense and visibility was very bad. On the way an 18 wheeler nearly hit us. We managed to make it to the lodge and rent a cabin. The road from the lodge to the cabin was almost impassible and visibility was low. At one point our tiers spun out and we were almost stuck. We pulled up to the cabin and the cabin itself is about twenty five feet from the parking spot. There is over six inches of snow on the ground and snow is falling very heavy. We trudged thru the snow to the cabin where there was warmth (then I made several trips unpacking the car. The cabin was rustic (pictured below after the snow began to melt). There was no actual phone line, and no wifi. The only phone or internet was thru our phones. But there was heat, there was power and there was a small kitchen. Here we were snowed in for a few days.
The “rolling blackouts” never happened. Power failed to 25 percent of the homes in the state and then stayed off for several days.
City water pumps were also without power, and water mains burst, leaving many without water. Those that had water were being warned to boil it… but they had no way to do so without power!
This was a good lesson on how bad things can get in just 24 hours. Stores were picked clean, no food, no water, no heat, no power, no firewood and no hotel rooms! Sub zero temperatures outside and and another snow storm coming in!
The decision to leave home and head into the storm was a difficult one, but it very well may have saved our lives!
This ordeal also cost us money that we frankly did not have to spend! The rent on the cabin alone came to about $600! Plus we are having, ironically, to replace a lot of our refrigerated food.
As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.
If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.
Donations can be sent by paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:
PO Box 471; Hurst, TX 76053