“We’re in it alone”: Power outages leave millions of Texans desperate for heat and safety

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The Blanco Vista neighborhood of San Marcos was blanketed with several inches of snow as a massive winter weather system caused power outages across Texas on Feb. 15, 2021. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

A grandmother slept in her car. Parents who ran out of firewood burned belongings to keep their children warm. A Richardson resident watched the battery level of her partner's oxygen machine drain away, and desperately sought help to have it recharged.

As Texas utility operators and politicians squabbled over responsibility for "load shedding" and "rolling blackouts" Tuesday, many residents scrambled simply to stay warm and alive.

Millions suffered through Monday night without power as a massive winter blitz sent temperatures plunging, shuttered grocery stores and caused widespread outages. With little certainty of when power would be restored — and politicians angrily blaming the state’s grid operator — thousands were left facing another night in brutal, potentially life threatening conditions. At least ten deaths have been linked to the disaster, and hundreds of people who live on the streets are being directed to seek life-saving refuge at shelters.