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Winter Storm 2021

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    The Winter Storm of 2021 turned Travis St. into a sight one would not usually see when visiting the Liberty County Courthouse. The Vindicator | Jennifer Gray Richardson
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    Highway 90 was covered in snow and ice Monday, Feb. 15, after a night of rapidly decreasing temperatures, frozen rain and snow caused by the Winter Storm of 2021. The Vindicator | Jennifer Gray Richardson
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    On a typical day, Farm to Market 1409 would be the color of dark asphalt, but it was turned to snowy white after the Arctic Blast that caused the Winter Storm of 2021. The Vindicator | Travis Huffman
  • Article Image Alt Text
    The Vindicator | Abraham Ramirez The Vindicator office surrounded by streets of white ice and snow rarely seen in the storied history of the newspaper.

A massive Arctic Blast hit Texas and Liberty County like a ton of icy bricks and no one was prepared for what happened across the state. The state was impacted by two back-to-back winter storms, Uri and Viola, something out of the ordinary in the southern parts of the state.

What originally was supposed to be a couple of days of record-breaking cold turned into nearly a week of temperatures that barely rose above freezing. In some locations in the county, the temperature dropped down to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, which was detrimental to the local infrastructure.

People watched the weather reports and prepared the best they could by wrapping pipes, stocking up on supplies and covering plants as stores sold out of essential items before the end of last week.

Schools in the area sent out notices of school closures, which had to be extended due to the quickly changing weather conditions.

In Liberty County, most citizens expect the typical winter of near-freezing conditions mixed in with a few hard freezes here and there. Unfortunately, this was not the case as temperatures unseen for decades swept through the county.

“This is something I have not seen since 1989. The power supply issue has been the most stirring of all issues because we don’t know when or where it will be turned on or turned off. Frozen pipes, frozen powerlines, frozen tree limbs falling on powerlines and frozen roads are all serious issues,” said Liberty Country Judge Jay Knight.

Power outages plagued the entire state, and many in the county were left in the dark, figuratively and literally. People were left without electricity and water for days as powerplants shut down due to the freezing conditions. Rolling blackouts caused thousands of Texans to lose power, some for days. At the peak of the storms, an estimated 15,00o people in Liberty County were without power.

How did this happen? That’s a question people across the state want answered.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT, is a nonprofit corporation that controls 90 percent of the state’s electrical load. ERCOT is the system operator for the region and schedules power on the electrical grid. The group manages the electric power for more than 26 million customers in Texas and is subject to the oversight of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature.

Numerous elected officials at all levels of the government have called for an investigation and the resignation of the ERCOT leadership team and board of directors, some of which do not live in the state of Texas.

Some blamed wind turbines and renewable energy sources for the loss of power, but this is not entirely accurate. According to reports, all power production sources are to blame for the failure.

The massive amounts of power outages are not the only problem people faced as the frigid conditions wreaked havoc on homes as pipes froze and burst, flooding homes across the area.

First responders have had numerous calls of accidents due to ice on the roads and calls involving carbon monoxide poisoning issues as people try to stay warm.

Cleveland and the Hull-Daisetta fire station have graciously become warming centers in the county for people to warm up and charge their devices.

The spread of Covid-19 as people gather for warmth is still a significant concern to add to the list of issues caused by the winter storm.

Nursing homes were left without electricity, families shivered in the cold night and Texans are left wondering how this all happened.