The first social media posts about the loss of power in the area came out early Monday morning. Homes in Candlelight Place, Shady Acres and Forest Pines reported losing power in the middle of the night, with residents in the Heights, Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and other neighborhoods reporting losing electricity in the morning.
At the time, they had no idea they would be without lights for so long.
In a contest that no one wanted to win, it seems those in Shady Acres went without power the longest.
“(It) went out at 1:30 a.m. Monday and came on just now at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday,” Stephanie Parker said. “Not sure how long it’ll last.”
The arctic blast that descended on the Houston area Sunday night - bringing sustained freezing temperatures, snow and ice - led to widespread power outages through Wednesday as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages energy flow for much of the state, directed local electricity providers to implement rotating outages because of a lack of supply on the grid and mechanical failures caused by the extreme weather. It made for a harrowing experience for area residents, who scrambled to stay warm in their homes while also coping with water-supply issues and burst pipes that had frozen.
Allison Newport, who lives in a 1940 bungalow in Shady Acres “with a bit of insulation in the attic but none underneath,” evacuated since she said it was not safe to stay.
“The lowest temp I measured inside my house was 25.5 degrees and I had an icy indoor faucet and frozen solid dog bowl,” she said. “I believe ours was the bottom threshold of indoor temps in our neighborhood.”
Laura Sartwelle, who lives on West 24th Street between Beall Street and Durham Drive, said the power first went out at 8 a.m. Monday. She did not get it back until 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. What was frustrating for her was the apparent randomness of who had power and who did not.
“Neighbors three houses down closer to Durham have never lost power this entire time and all of the businesses that are closed between Durham and Shepherd on 24th Street have all of their lights on and signs lighted up with no one there,” Sartwelle said. “We have a neighbor who uses a breathing machine at night, and he has gotten very sick due to no electricity. Our house got down to 45 degrees. What can we as citizens do to prevent this in the future?”
Vanessa Smith in Section 2 of Garden Oaks had a similar experience of near neighbors with full power. At her home, the power flickered at 1 a.m. Monday and completely went out at 5:30 a.m.
It was restored briefly the next day at 10:30 p.m. and had gone on and off since then.
“It was 48 at its coldest, although the thermostat said 55 when the power came back on,” Smith said. “We never evacuated, convinced that the power was coming back on any minute. That was not the case for 40 hours.”
Among the many lessons Smith said she and her family learned for the future? Don’t forget to fill the bathtubs with water.
Kimberly Spaeth in Forest Pines first lost power around 2 a.m. Monday and got it back on for initial service after 25 hours, with sporadic power over Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The house got to 43 degrees,” Spaeth said. “We stayed home since hotels lost their power, too.”
Megan Taverna, who lives in Woodland Heights, said their home got down to 39 degrees.
“We didn’t evacuate, we don’t have family in town and everyone else we knew also didn’t have power,” Taverna said. “We felt someone needed to be here to stay with our dog and keep an eye on the pipes.”
The power came back at their house at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“It has been on ever since, fingers crossed,” Taverna said. “We also had low water pressure but a gas stove to boil water.”
Having little or no water pressure has area residents keeping an eye on their pipes and testing their faucets. Many are posting online about hopes to wash clothes or dishes or to take a shower.
“I’ll never take hot showers for granted again,” Sierra Gray of Garden Oaks said. “Dreaming of running water.”