Dottie Buehring burrowed into her home from 3 a.m. Monday morning to 6 p.m. on Thursday as the arctic front swept across Texas, leaving thousands of people without power for several days.
“It was miserable,” said Buehring, who is 80 years old. She said she expected the power to come back on but it didn’t – not for four days.
“I’m 80 years old and it was dangerous for us,” she said. “
She had a fireplace that had not been used in a while that her two firefighter sons wouldn’t allow her to use. She also had a large generator that she could not maneuver.
But she had food and a small heating stove. She also remembered her husband, Ed Buehring, saying to be prepared with water so she had two big jugs filled as well as a stock of bottled water.
The temperatures got down to as low as 17 degrees on Feb. 15, which was the last observation that could be confirmed by the National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi before the power went out.
The cold didn’t impact patient care or service at Memorial Medical Center, said CEO Jason Anglin. And, MMC didn’t lose any COVID vaccine, as it didn’t have any at the time to lose.
As a back up, the hospital keeps 500 gallons of water on tap, so “we were good there,” he said. A Port Lavaca Fire tanker truck did have to come by and provide water when the pressure dropped and the toilets wouldn’t flush.
“We had to be very conservative about flushing,” said Anglin, noting the fire department came by a couple of times to help with water.
The generators worked as well but alarms kept ringing, as the temperatures got too cold for the units, Anglin said.
The HVAC system had two units freeze and damage the coils, said Anglin. Right now, the units can’t be repaired. Anglin said they would be speaking with the county and hopes some of the damage could be covered by insurance. “A $2,500 deductible is not too bad for that.”
Overall the hospital came through the situation in good shape.
“We did pretty well,” said Anglin. “I heard stories of hospitals that had it far worse.”
FISH & ANIMALS
As oyster season is well underway, RJ Shelly, CEA‐Coastal Marine Resources with the Texas AgriLife Service, said the cold’s affect on oysters is minor.
“They are insulated as they are down in the mud where it’s warmer,” he said.
The arctic front did put a freeze on some of the bays closer to shore but Shelly believes the creatures that inhabit the gradually cooling water gave the fish enough time to find deeper water.
He added that it would be later in the year before any evidence of what the storm did to the fisheries would be seen and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department wardens will be looking.
“By mid summer or fall you will get a better idea of what happened to the juvenile trout or redfish. If it’s all adults, it means they didn’t spawn and no spawn, no babies,” he said, which is why bag seining is important at different points.
On the landside, Greg Baker, CEA‐Agriculture and Natural Resources for the AgriLife Service, said a handful of older cows – ones that couldn’t graze real well – had died.
“But it could have been worse,” he said. Cows start calving February – April. “I spoke with the FFA sponsor and he agreed it was just a handful of old cows, nothing widespread. We’re good on the cattle side.”
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“It was miserable but it could have really been bad,” said Buehring. “We could have lost lives.”