Thinking of Texas
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the “Big Freeze” in Texas. Over a 5-day period, over 4 million Texans lost power in one of the coldest winter storms to hit the Lone Star State in decades. Hundreds lost their lives as a result of this storm; millions were left without water & electricity and the overall economic loss totaled in the billions of dollars.
I extend my sympathy, heartfelt thoughts, and prayers to those that lost their lives a year ago during this tragic event and all the loved ones who are still grieving.
This storm took everybody by surprise and most of us at UTC knew somebody in Texas who would be weathering this storm. Our Immediate Past Chair, Greg Angst, is from Houston and works for CenterPoint Energy. He was the first to call me and tell me about the storm. I immediately thought of my close family and loved ones that live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Many were not aware that Texas has a deregulated power grid. Consumers need to be better educated about utilities and everything within them. Having lived in the DFW area for more than 3 years and watching this unfold in a place I once called home was devastating. I always make it a point to educate those around me, my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc., of the brave utility workers who face these storms head-on.
It was apparent that this storm was getting worse by the day. The images that were being shared online and on the news were shocking. It was hard to believe that this was really happening in Texas. The images that stood out to me the most were of the line workers, facing adverse conditions and working around the clock to restore power for their fellow Texans. Their perseverance and courage exemplify why I will continue to label them as first responders. They assist our other first responders and emergency workers and without them, many jobs would be impossible to complete.
Now, as many Americans are dealing with the destructive aftermath of Winter Storm Landon, which stretched from Texas to New England, it is a reminder that these heroes do not just work 9 to 5. Like our other first responders, they need to be ready at a moment’s notice. Please take some time this week, especially if you are in Texas, to thank your local utility workers. Whether they are on the front lines or behind the scenes, they make it their duty to serve. While they deserve more than our gratitude, it is the least we can do for them. Let us show them that they are seen, they are appreciated, and they are honored. To all the utility workers, near and far, I say to you two of the most important words in the English language. “Thank You.”