We don't have power until everyone has power
More than 100 hours without electricity will get to ya. And it's still not over.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 20,000 Austinites still don’t have power.
Up until yesterday afternoon, we were among them.
Our little house in North Austin was knocked off the power grid on Thursday, fairly late into the ice storm that is only the most recent weather-related disaster to wreak havoc on our city.
The oak trees, already stressed by drought, couldn’t hold up to all that ice.
By the thousands, no, millions, they gave up, branches dropping to the ground with a snap and a roof-rattling crash that we heard for hours on the night we lost power.
This was the second morning in as many years that we awoke with cold noses and frigid floors.
At first, it seemed like an average outage. Maybe a day, we thought. Nothing our deep freeze and a desire to quickly eat everything we could in the fridge couldn’t handle.
But the power company just couldn’t keep up with all the outages.
By the end of the second day, something felt different. Maybe we would have to come up with a plan for all that lamb and goat we’d just bought from a grieving farmer friend. The familiar frazzled nerves I first really felt during the 2021 winter storm were starting to fray. Again.
That second night, we’d already had dinner plans with friends, so we went ahead to their house, and half of us spent the night. Frank doesn’t like to stay away from the house when it’s in this vulnerable state, so he came back, with his sidekick in tow. (That’s Avery. Yes, it’s very cute. More on that step-parent/kid relationship later.)
The sun shined on Saturday and Sunday, heating up the house and warming our spirits. We’d borrowed a generator from a friend, so we spent the weekend breaking down the sizable branches that fell from the oak tree in the backyard.
We still had no power and were starting to suspect that, at the rate Austin Energy was fixing the outages, this might go on a lot longer than anything we’d experienced before.
That night, as we faced our fifth day without electricity, we got the news: This could go on for another five days.
School was set to return on Monday, so the boys stayed with their dad. The thought of trying to get them ready without any lights in the pre-dawn hour was enough to make my stomach sink.
By this point, I was obsessing over the Austin Energy map, refreshing the outage map every few hours. At one point, they were fixing 100 per day, with 1,600 to go.
The prospect of waiting two weeks for power dropped my stomach to the floor.
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