Houston's "Perfect Storm"
Historic Storm Brings Unprecedented Problems
Could you imagine the uproar if nearly every resident of Chicago lost power and water? It's happening in Houston and across the state of Texas right now where weather and a series of circumstances are creating their version of a "perfect storm". Nearly 4 million people were without power across the southern state at the peak of this crisis. A high percentage of that number comes from Houston alone, our 4th most populated city. That is more than the number of people that live in Chicago and close to the number of people that live in Los Angeles.
As of this writing there are still nearly 3 million people in the dark. There is also a growing number of people without water.
You might recall the George Clooney movie "The Perfect Storm" which debuted twenty-one years ago. It was based on a book by Sebastian Junger and focused on a furious storm that lead to the disappearance and presumed destruction of the "Andrea Gail", a commercial fishing boat. The six members of her crew were never found after setting out for the Grand Banks of Newfoundland off the New England coast during the fall of 1991. The word "perfect" was used to describe the rare combination of meteorological conditions that fueled a storm that ravaged the eastern seaboard in late October and early November of 1991.
Nearly thirty years later and a different type of "perfect storm" is impacting the fourth largest city in the United States. It goes beyond Houston to nearly every corner of Texas. The record power outage hit during a record cold snap following an historic winter storm that had every county of our country's second largest state under a winter storm warning at the same time. The brunt of the storm in terms of severe weather was felt late Sunday into Monday. Days later a disaster continues to play out in the Lone Star state. Weather is just one of the multifaceted parts of this new perfect storm. The state reached a record demand for energy as the Arctic air, freezing rain, sleet and snow spread from the panhandle all the way to its southern tip beaches. Even rare "thundersleet" was observed in Houston Sunday night. The series of circumstances that have combined in this case to make a perfect storm include problems with the state's various means of supplying energy to its residents that are due in part to failures brought on by the record cold but also issues with some of the policies and procedures of state's main manager of energy. ERCOT, short for The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, is responsible for about 90% of the state's power for 26 million customers.
I don't want to get into the politics of this problem because now is not the time to lay blame. It is shameful that people are taking advantage of this to push their political agenda. People are dying and need help.
Now is not the time for finger pointing. Now is the time to figure this mess out and get help to people that desperately need it.
Nearly two dozen people have died already and more deaths could be coming as people cope with the cold and growing lack of safe water.
I have a personal connection to this crisis. My daughter, her husband and their two young children are among the millions trying to navigate through this catastrophe that sometimes seems like has no end in sight.
Here are a few links with ways to help: