The extreme cold snap that blanketed Texas with ice and snow is leaving the state with countless cracked pipes and hundreds of communities grappling with water shortage.
The state, once with sprawling deserts and excruciating heat waves, was recently hit by unprecedented low temperature that triggered heavy snow and major power blackouts.
Although in many places, lights have been flickered back on and the snow has begun to melt, this merely marks the end of the beginning as the state entered a new round of challenges, with many people struggling to get safe, drinkable water.
For Bryan Logan and Dlasha Sorrells, a couple living in the outskirt of Dallas, they have been having difficulties moving around even during normal weather, and are now counting the sips of their last reserve of water.
“We had no water at all for the last two days because of the city having water problems, and we got online with our local water department and they had no information at all, about any repairs or what to do. It’s been very difficult. I even thought about getting snow to bring it in to melt to flush the potty. That would be our next step,” said Logan.
Against the foot of their kitchen cupboard now lies a few empty water bottles, which Sorrells managed to snap in the early hours of the disaster. Gripped by water shortage, the couple could not cook, and the stores had been running low on other food too.
“I went (to the grocery store) and I got these (bottled water), and I got ten of them. That’s what we’re living on. The bread was gone. The milk was gone. The biscuits were gone. I mean, everything was empty. It was like an empty grocery store except for the people. So, it was hard,” said Sorrells.
With the blizzard slowly blowing over, the snow-melted water flowing in the streets are gradually forming into ice, crippling traffic and supply chains. Just like water, many life necessities quickly went out of stock in the local market.
Although Texas has been airlifting bottled waters and distributing them at designated spots, the question remains for long-term water access. Fort Worth may be steadily recovering from the cold snap, but the hundreds of pipes damaged now lie paralytic in the dark.
“The challenge now is all the main breaks which are bleeding the water out of the system and bleeding pressure off of the system. We have crews working 24-7. We have contractors that we have brought in to assist with the main break repairs.” said Mary Gugliuzza, the media relations and communications coordinator from the City of Fort Worth Water Department.
Even so, the numbers of bursting water lines are still too many to cover, and Texas is still anxiously awaiting neighborhood plumbers to come to their rescue.
In face of the unprecedented snow storm, U.S. President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, ordering federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas hit by the snowstorm.
The assistance will include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners to get back on their feet.
However, before the declaration brings any tangible changes, Sorrells and her husband would be left in the frigid conditions, like many thousands of others who have been caught off guard by the severe weather.
“It’s hard on us because we can’t take a bath. We can’t do simple things. We have to take medicine. It’s hard to find water. We can’t do normal things like we usually do to survive,” she said.
To lift her spirit, Sorrells placed on her table a little card painted with spring marguerites. On the card it reads “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.