Houstonians hit hardest by 2021 winter storm still working to recover

Great Texas Freeze left millions in the state without power, water for days

HOUSTON – Last Valentine’s Day, Texas was in the midst of a winter storm that would lead to calamity.

The 2021 storm, which some now call the Great Texas Freeze, blanketed much of the state in the snow and ice, making travel difficult in many parts of the state. At one point, all of Texas’ 254 counties were under a Winter Storm Warning. However, it was the arctic air that followed that would cause the greatest problems.

The bitter cold led to record demand on the state’s power grid from Texans trying to keep warm. Power plants and the fuel lines that fed them began to freeze and fail, leading to blackouts to prevent a catastrophic overload of the grid.

One of the cities hit the hardest by storm was Houston. Without heat in a place where homes are not usually built to withstand extreme cold, temperatures that dropped into the teens at night led to burst pipes across the city. Eventually, water would be reduced to a trickle in nearly every home in Houston.

"My pipes broke," said Sandra Pelfrey, a resident of Houston. "We had no heat or electricity until Friday, but we were lucky because we did get it Friday."

In the Independence Heights neighborhood, north of downtown Houston, residents are still trying to recover from the disaster.

"People right now still have not got help yet," said Cynthia Cooper, who lives in Independence Heights. "So we are really trying to have everyone patch up their own houses because that was the problem with the freeze that no one had the insurance."

More than 4 million people lost power during the storm for an average of 42 hours. Nearly half of all Texans had no water for just over two days.

State officials said the storm contributed to the deaths of 246 people.