Texas weather: Young family 'just trying to keep warm'

By Sam Cabral
BBC News

Media caption,
Desperation in Texas: ‘We’re on day three of no power'

Over two million Texans have been without power since the weekend as winter storms sweep the US. Freezing rain and sleet are still falling, leaving many in America's second most-populous state desperate for warmth.

In San Antonio, Kristen Haddox wishes the power would come back on.

Her building lost access to water on Saturday and electricity on Sunday, forcing 21-year-old Ms Haddox, her husband and their 11-month-old daughter to abandon their cold flat.

The Southwestern state's overwhelmed energy grid collapsed over the weekend, causing lengthy and unprecedented blackouts across Texas at the worst possible time.

Ms Haddox's family was able to drive to her parent's place nearby. "They also don't have power, but they do have water," she says.

They've huddled around the fireplace and made grilled cheese sandwiches on DIY stoves, but Ms Haddox worries about her baby.

"She's getting bored, of course, and we're just trying to keep her warm," she says. "I had to go to someone's house and boil some water so that she can have a warm bottle."

Image source, Kristen Haddox
Image caption,
Kristen Haddox and her husband are worried about keeping their baby warm amid the winter storm

Ms Haddox is a medical care specialist who has been working from home but can barely get any cell service to do her job.

Her husband works as a landscaper at a local golf course and his employers have already said he likely will not be able to get back to work soon.

That means the couple may not earn any income all week. When the storm hit, they had not even gone grocery shopping.

"What we have is all obviously trash now," she says. "The fridge is warmer than it is outside."

Image source, Kristen Haddox
Image caption,
Ms Haddox takes her daughter to the car periodically to keep her warm

Driving in search of food, they discovered the roads were mostly blocked off and stores were closed. The local gas station, where they purchased snacks, was the only shop open in the area.

Ms Haddox is from the Midwestern state of Illinois, so she is used to cold weather, but she has no idea how much longer her family will have to survive without the heat on.

"We're paying monthly for [power] and we can't even have it?"

'News stations had to show residents how to bundle up'

Across Texas, many families are facing similar struggles.

In Houston, the state's largest city, resident Taylor Golden says pipes have burst in many homes in addition to the power outages.

"Homes aren't built to withstand cold here like they are in other states," she says, adding that a friend's plumber said he had 250 messages to respond to.

Ms Golden, 35, is thankful for her recent move out of the city. Power has been restored at her house, but her friends downtown continue to wait.

Image source, Taylor Golden
Image caption,
Taylor Golden - seen here in a snowball fight with her niece - says she's been "lucky" to get the lights back on

"Keep Texas in your prayers," she says. "This is affecting us like a hurricane normally does, except we all know how to prepare and get through those."

"Everyone is lost right now and just trying to stay warm."

In Dallas, Chistopher Mudd, 20, lost power at home and saw all his classes - in-person and virtual - cancelled until at least next week.

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is home to over seven million people and, while the power is slowly being restored, issues around water are a growing concern.

Media caption,
Frozen turbines and climate change: The politics behind the Texas power failure

"The water mains in our city have broken," says Mr Mudd. "Water pressure is going down and a boil notice has been put in effect."

Further south, in the border town of El Paso, 19-year-old Amira Landeros says panic buying has left behind empty shelves at local stores, emblematic of just how unprepared the state was for the bad weather.

"Our local news stations had to show residents how to properly bundle up," she adds.