Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Disasters Happen

When my husband and I lived in the mountains at 8300 ft., we used electrical heat tape to prevent our water line from freezing. It was there when we arrived and we left it attached when we moved away. Since it was on a thermocouple, it turned on only when the temperatures dropped. We never had any problems over the years, even though the temperatures were often shockingly cold. When we decided to relocate several hours away, we sold our property to a professional man who was quite sure he was far savvier than we, so when my husband explained about the heat tape, the man scrunched his face into a kind of frown. “Isn’t that a waste of money?” he asked in a question that was a patronizing rebuke. My husband didn’t argue. Your house, your choice, he thought. A few months later around Christmas time, we received a frantic call. It was the professional man. “The water lines are frozen! We don’t have any water!” he exclaimed in a panic which was also an accusation that we had somehow cheated him. “Did you leave the heat tape plugged in?” asked my husband sweetly. “No.” The man couldn’t see my husband’s shrug. “Then you’d better call a plumber. There’s nothing I can do for you.”

I thought about that incident when I heard Texans were suffering in the bitter cold because their energy moguls had wanted to save the relatively few bucks that winterizing their equipment would have cost. People were bereft of heat and electricity and water and, in many places, food. Deaths rose. The two previous times Texas had endured a similar disaster induced by cold, experts reported they could avoid the problem in the future by taking precautions such as installing insulation—even though they wouldn’t need the precautions very often.  But the energy moguls figured they knew best. They were independent. They could save money. They would all be long dead before a freak cold wave would hit again. This week, it happened…for the third time.

The governor accused the Green Deal of being at fault, since even wind turbines were frozen in place. But all of the Texas power grid was crippled in place—oil, gas, coal, and wind. They turned to the federal government for assistance because, unlike other states, they had totally isolated their grid from their neighboring states. No one could require them to share…like socialists! No one could regulate them and force them to winterize their equipment. They had just bragged that they could secede from the union and still succeed, and a movement toward that end was afoot, as usual. What they hadn’t anticipated was that regardless of how big or wealthy a state might be, the United States still work best when they work together. Disasters happen.

I suppose I could write about hubris or pride here and how it can lead to humiliation and even destruction. The man who bought our property might understand how the Texas energy moguls might be feeling as they watch their customers struggling to survive. Or maybe reality therapy that doesn’t impact the moguls themselves doesn’t work. After all, the governor simply lied about the cause of the problem—shifting the blame to infrastructure changes that haven’t happened yet, just as our professional man wanted to blame us for his shortsightedness. Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz took his family to Cancun for a nice warm vacation to avoid the inconvenience, then rushed home to invent a story he thought justified him when journalists caught him. Denial, lies and being just plain cheap and selfish when it comes to the welfare of common people seems to be a theme these past few years—if not since the beginning of time. Telling people you’re taking care of them is almost the same thing as actually doing it…isn’t it?

(My thanks to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW for corroborating details as to the precise dates of previous Texas cold disasters and the actual subsequent advisory report that advised winterizing. Also, thanks to Thomas Black for the photo.)

2 comments on “Disasters Happen

  1. Frances Sullivan
    February 19, 2021

    Love “No one could require them to share… like socialists!” Maybe me laugh out loud. When New England’s grid overloaded in ’65 and then in ’03, it was a software glitch and both times, although both Canada and US were affected, the grid was restored and operational within hours. Cooperation. It does work. I was listening to an interview this morning on CBC explaining how Texas manages its electricity. A disaster waiting to happen. Bad business all the way around. And, as is commonplace, the poorest pay the highest price. Good story. Adore the image of the chap who purchased your mountain top home. I’ve known a few the ’em in my day, too. LOL

    • Personal Journeys with Gramma
      February 25, 2021

      Selfishness lures people into shooting themselves in the foot–sometimes literally! Good to hear from you, Frances.

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