ALESTLE VIEW: Texas' extreme weather is no laughing matter

Winter weather hit the SIUE area hard last week, but not as hard as the state of Texas. The severity of the weather in Texas was only amplified because it’s not what Texans and other Southerners were used to — freezing temperatures and inches upon inches of snow. It’s easy for Northerners to joke and feel superior about how people in the South can’t stand any cold. However, this past week proved to be incredibly serious, and not something to shame them for at all.

With a winter storm warning encompassing the entire state of Texas, no one knew what to expect. Eventually, much of Texas lost power due to the extreme weather. The initial cause for the power outage was the weather, obviously. But, the power stayed off because Texas is not well-connected to the power grids of surrounding states, which is incredibly uncommon. The continental U.S. has three power grids: the western grid, the eastern grid and the Texas grid. This decision was not because of a large amount of power production or consumption in Texas; it was an attempt to avoid following some safety regulations and save money. In any time of year, a mass power outage would be cause for concern, but in extreme colds, living without heat proved deadly for some, as almost a dozen Texans died from suspected hypothermia. Some Texans even had to use their trucks to generate power for their homes. Even if you’re a Northerner who lives in the cold and loves it, you would still definitely need a heater to survive.

About one day into this nightmare of a week for Texas, it was revealed that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) left Texas with his family for a vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Since then, Cruz has returned to Texas to help distribute water to Texans. But there were other actions from Texan politicians that shows a lack of understanding. This includes (now former) Mayor Tim Boyd of Colorado City, Texas stating, “Only the strong will survive and the weak will perish” and, “... think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family,” and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott falsely blaming the power outages on wind and solar energy.

Some may claim that Cruz leaving Texas is not an issue, or understandable because he is just one senator. He does not have the power to stop the weather instantly, or to flip a switch and return power to Texans or change the structure of the Texan power grid instantly. However, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- N.Y.) has raised around $5 million in aid for Texans, whom she does not even represent politically. Raising money does not turn the power back on for Texans, but it’s a start. The money will be donated to many different charities, including the Houston Food Bank, Feeding Texas, Bridge Homeless Recovery Center and more. It’s clear by Cruz’s attempted escape to Cancun that he was not thinking of making the situation better for Texas at all; he was thinking of making his own situation better.

The point is that although the weather can be awful and truly despicable, it is now time to help. Even if you believe that handouts and aid from the government are beneath you or unnecessary, it is obvious that this is what Texas needs. It is why politicians are elected; they serve the citizens, and the citizens of Texas are freezing and dying. If you can donate to help Texas out of this, then please do. And if you can’t, then at least understand that the terrible deeds of Texas’ politicians do not mean that all Texans must suffer.

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