Cold snap, outages hurt Texas’s most vulnerable
By Silvia Foster-Frau and Arelis R. Hernández
SAN ANTONIO — Families living in substandard homes lacking proper insulation are often huddling around a single space heater to stay warm in South Texas. Asylum seekers are wrapping themselves in blankets and keeping a community fire ablaze in a migrant camp near the border. Community organizers in Austin, San Antonio and other major Texas cities are hustling to rescue the unhoused as hypothermia and frostbite set in.
While the dangerously cold weather and accompanying power outages are touching nearly all Texans in some way, the crisis is especially dire for the state’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities — whose lives have already been threatened by disaster, disease and destitution in recent years. Many were simply trying not to freeze to death inside their homes and cars and on the streets as they braced for another storm.
Texas’s crippled energy system cannot generate enough electricity to power the millions of homes on its grid — from sprawling suburban mansions to the houses and apartments occupied by families already suffering from hunger and poverty. A vivid metaphor for the state’s entrenched inequities emerged Monday night: the illuminated Texas skylines of downtown buildings and newly filled luxury hotels cast against the darkened silhouettes of freezing neighborhoods.