The devastation in Texas left from freezing and widespread power outages from a winter storm was at deadly proportions not seen in more than 30 years. Texans across the large state were left to fend for themselves as they looked for ways to keep themselves warm, fed and hydrated.
A deep freeze has taken over the Lone Star State, extending to its roads as well as water pipes, the latter of which many ruptured, beginning as forceful streams that eventually froze over. The burst pipes from Winter Storm Uri have resulted in a boil water order — if you were lucky enough to have access to both running water and the gas or electricity needed to boil it.
In grocery stores, shelves were bare as basic supplies were in short demand, forcing residents to seek refuge in shelters that provided warmth, food and a place to sleep.
On the roads, conditions were dangerously icy as precipitation continued amid temperatures that were about 30 degrees lower than the typical average for this time of year. In fact, the last time Texas was this cold was back in 1989.
While the entire state has been affected, research shows that Texas’ Black and brown communities remain the hardest hit as a series of storms create arctic temperatures, in addition to the loss of heat and water. The reasons for the disproportionate suffering along racial lines point to the conditions that Black communities are typically exposed to, including but not limited to closer proximities to industrial sites with higher instances of pollution; longer instances of response time to repair damages made by natural disasters; and, of course, lack of economic equity. Housing projects are usually the first to lose power and the last to have it restored. Areas with large homeless populations could also stretch thin the resources at shelters or safe havens like churches.
Adding insult to literal injury was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz being caught in his lie surrounding him and his family fleeing the state to a luxury vacation resort in Cancun. After Cruz first described the trip as innocently impromptu, local law enforcement sources said the Senator’s staff contacted the Houston Police Department earlier this week about its plans while requesting an escort for him and his family. The New York Times obtained text messages from Cruz’s wife showing the trip was planned, prompting the Senator to admit his decision to go on vacation while his constituents suffered “a mistake.”
It was the latest twist to an ongoing saga in Texas, where it’s unclear when the deep freeze will finally begin to thaw.
For a better perspective of what’s happening on the ground, scroll down to find devastating photos from across the state showing what life has become in Texas after Winter Storm Uri.
Shoppers walk past a bare shelf as people stock up on necessities at a grocery store in Austin on Feb. 18.
A woman throws wood on a fire for heat in her home in Houston on Feb. 17.
A large trailer truck is seen flipped sideways on Highway 59 in Pierce, Texas, on Feb. 16.
Icicles form on a bush in downtown Houston on Feb. 15.
A man makes hot coffee during a power outage in Houston on Feb. 16.
Customers wait outside at a Home Depot in Pearland, Texas, on Feb. 17. The store would only let one person in at a time because it had no electricity.
Customers wait in line to enter a grocery store in Houston on Feb. 17.
A man looks for information on his cell phone as he rests at a makeshift shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Feb. 17.
People line up at a propane gas station to refill their tanks after Winter Storm Uri caused electricity blackouts in Houston on Feb. 18.
People sleep on couches while taking shelter at a furniture store that opened its doors and transformed into a warming station in Houston on Feb. 18.
Icicles hang from street signs in Killeen, Texas, on Feb. 18.