HOUSTON – A year ago, Houston was experiencing some of the coldest temperatures the city had seen in at least a decade.
Arctic air, which was preceded by a light coating of snow and ice, led to frozen equipment at power plants. Without plants to generate power, blackouts were mandated to prevent a catastrophic overload of the state’s electric grid. Those blackouts would last for days as temperatures remained at or below freezing.
Eleanor Wilson, a resident of Houston, knew the freeze was coming. All the weather reports said as much. So, she prepared.
"I went on YouTube," Wilson said. "I did everything I was supposed to do."
Wilson said that when her house lost power, she decided to ride out the storm there. That was until she lost water, too. She packed up her family, and they headed for her brother’s house in Katy, a suburb west of Houston.
She said she had a bad feeling about two days later and decided to head back home to check on things.
"My youngest son goes to the door, and he opens the door, and I was still in the car," Wilson said. "He comes back, and he says, ‘Mom, it’s your worst nightmare.’"
Wilson said she walked inside and found caved-in ceilings and ankle-deep water from pipes that had burst in the freezing weather. She said was only able to salvage a half-dozen chairs and a cabinet.
"It’s pretty traumatic," she said.
Wilson said has been staying in an Airbnb since then, while she waits for the insurance company and her contractor to finish repairs. She said supply issues and storms over the summer have slowed the work.
"I’m hoping we’re nearing the end of this whole process," Wilson said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Texas Freeze was the costliest winter storm on record with an estimated $24 billion in damage.