As we warm up and scramble to regain some sense of normalcy, the State of Texas is still reeling from last week’s unprecedented winter storm event.
The State of Texas was effectively shut down, with sustained temperatures well below freezing in an area not accustomed to severe cold weather. Millions of Texans were left without power to heat their homes during the coldest weather experienced in decades.
The effects spiraled outward.
Water supply was affected, with many cities still under water boil advisories.
Food supply chains were impacted, as millions sought out fresh food not spoiled.
Schools, universities and offices closed, along with major roadways.
Many families, already reeling from the effects of the pandemic, struggling to pick-up the pieces, with the most vulnerable and economically-disadvantaged communities being hit the hardest.
Lives lost and forever changed.
It’s not a scene we’re unfamiliar with, but it’s a scene that shouldn’t have happened.
Last week, I published a post titled “What We Stand to Lose” about the role we can take in climate action, however small it can be, and how mitigating the effects of climate change is an imperative when so much is stood to be lost going forward.
It was a message of climate resiliency, as storms grow more intense and extreme. I posted it on Tuesday, as many woke up to no power or countless others were soon to lose it.
At the time, I couldn’t have known how dire the problem would grow for so many in the state over the course of the week.
In many ways, the events of the last week reminded me of Hurricane Harvey.
We all know the devastation of that storm; a storm with lingering effects to this day:
More than about $125 billion in damage.
Second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900.
More than a year’s worth of rain dumped on the region in less than a week.
Countless homes and businesses destroyed.
It’s something imprinted in the minds of everyone in the region and won’t soon be lost.
People echoed messages like “Houston Strong,” as we tried to piece things back together as a community.
And it’s true. Texans as a whole are a resilient bunch, but imagine what could be if we were a Texas that was prepared?
The ebbs and flows of extreme weather, winter or not, are a reality that needs to be confronted. The story of the last week is just as much a story of preparedness in the face of hurricanes and other natural disasters as it is about climate resiliency; flood protection in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and a robust electrical grid in the face of other extreme weather events like Winter Storm Uri.
The costs and overall toll won’t be known for some time, but we already know the heaviness it placed on individuals across Texas.
The burden of resiliency can’t be placed on just the people, who have already endured so much at the hands of unrelenting storms and now an ongoing pandemic.
There is a need to contend with the threats of a changing climate.
There is a need for change to our infrastructure. A need for preparedness at whatever is thrown our way. A need to protect residents, especially those who are most vulnerable.
A need for climate resilience.
No one fix will solve all of our problems, and there is not one entity to blame for the events of the last week here in Texas.
But one thing is certain: it is a call to action.
Not just for any one person, but a call to action for our community.
Our leaders and elected officials.
Our service providers.
For all segments of our society, it is a collective call to change and build back for the better in order to keep our communities thriving.
Otherwise, we will continue to lose so much of what makes us strong, so much of what makes us a vibrant place to live.