Discussions

I think the most important thing I learned during this disaster is when to leave.  We knew the storm was coming, so on Saturday we got groceries, brought extra firewood inside, fully charged the Powerwall, etc.  We woke up on Monday with no power.  Not unexpected, its a blizzard after all.  We piled on layers and managed our battery power.  We nailed blankets over doorways.  We had plenty of preps for food and water.  Our wifi went out when the batteries were empty, and cell service had also gone out.  We got a ladder and broom to sweep snow off the solar panels to try and get some power for wifi.  We were able to contact friends and family.  My mother-in-law, who lives out of state, checked on the power outages, but there were no estimated uptimes. Some friends had power, some did not.  The ones that did reported rolling blackouts that lasted 15 minutes, then 45 minutes, then their power did not return. When the inside temp was in the 60s, we built a fire in the fireplace.  Our fireplace is designed to vent the heat up the chimney, but we could huddle around the hearth and play board games with our daughter.  We piled extra blankets on the bed and the 3 of us piled in.  I was confident the power would come back overnight, and Monday would just be an annoyance. We woke up Tuesday morning and it was 44 degrees in our house.  Luckily a friend nearby had power, but no water.  We took jugs of water to her place and stayed there. On Wednesday night, 2.5 days after the outages and blackouts started, while the temps were in the single digits, the power company gave an estimated uptime:  days.  People were advised to seek someplace warm. One friend moved his family into a hotel Monday morning, when he saw that the firewood he planned to use all day for heat was nearly gone by 11 am.  He got one of the last rooms in the hotel. Friends who waited until Tuesday morning could not find any hotel rooms at all.  Some had to drive over 60 miles, on snowy, icy roads, to stay with friends or family.  Luckily they had gassed up their cars, because gas stations either had no power or were empty. As preppers we like to be self-sufficient, and we like to think we can handle anything.  But sometimes the right move is to go find help.

I’m in Texas, and as a friend said, I’m no longer leaning into this adventure.  I’ve already been calling my elected officials from City Council up to Senator about this failure, and I’m attending a meeting this Saturday on lobbying the Legislature to enact ERCOT reform. I live in a suburb.  My house is all electric, no gas lines in my neighborhood.   My problem is heat.  Our power was out for 34 hours, and the house got down to 44 degrees inside.  Still warmer than some, but not good.  We have a wood burning fireplace, but its built for ambiance and actually makes the room colder rather than warmer.  We are planning on buying an insert this week to fix that. We have solar panels on our roof, and 3 Tesla Powerwalls that hold 12 kW each.  We have a heat pump, but it only works above 40 degrees.  It was around 2 degrees Monday, and our furnace pulls 15 kW per hour.  We turned off the furnace and ran a couple space heaters, the fridge, and the wifi router, but the Powerwalls were empty after about half a day. After the storm ended, we were able to sweep snow off of half of the solar panels, and got enough to continue running wifi, but we didn’t even plug in space heaters.  It was a cloudy day, and we were hoping to fill the Powerwalls up enough to run the heat for 10 minutes in the evening. Verizon’s LTE network went down, so wifi was our only communication.  We’ve got blankets nailed over doorways, and we’re wrapped up in layers.  I’m not really interested in storing propane for a space heater that we use once every 5-10 years.  Any suggestions other than the fireplace insert?

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I think the most important thing I learned during this disaster is when to leave.  We knew the storm was coming, so on Saturday we got groceries, brought extra firewood inside, fully charged the Powerwall, etc.  We woke up on Monday with no power.  Not unexpected, its a blizzard after all.  We piled on layers and managed our battery power.  We nailed blankets over doorways.  We had plenty of preps for food and water.  Our wifi went out when the batteries were empty, and cell service had also gone out.  We got a ladder and broom to sweep snow off the solar panels to try and get some power for wifi.  We were able to contact friends and family.  My mother-in-law, who lives out of state, checked on the power outages, but there were no estimated uptimes. Some friends had power, some did not.  The ones that did reported rolling blackouts that lasted 15 minutes, then 45 minutes, then their power did not return. When the inside temp was in the 60s, we built a fire in the fireplace.  Our fireplace is designed to vent the heat up the chimney, but we could huddle around the hearth and play board games with our daughter.  We piled extra blankets on the bed and the 3 of us piled in.  I was confident the power would come back overnight, and Monday would just be an annoyance. We woke up Tuesday morning and it was 44 degrees in our house.  Luckily a friend nearby had power, but no water.  We took jugs of water to her place and stayed there. On Wednesday night, 2.5 days after the outages and blackouts started, while the temps were in the single digits, the power company gave an estimated uptime:  days.  People were advised to seek someplace warm. One friend moved his family into a hotel Monday morning, when he saw that the firewood he planned to use all day for heat was nearly gone by 11 am.  He got one of the last rooms in the hotel. Friends who waited until Tuesday morning could not find any hotel rooms at all.  Some had to drive over 60 miles, on snowy, icy roads, to stay with friends or family.  Luckily they had gassed up their cars, because gas stations either had no power or were empty. As preppers we like to be self-sufficient, and we like to think we can handle anything.  But sometimes the right move is to go find help.

I’m in Texas, and as a friend said, I’m no longer leaning into this adventure.  I’ve already been calling my elected officials from City Council up to Senator about this failure, and I’m attending a meeting this Saturday on lobbying the Legislature to enact ERCOT reform. I live in a suburb.  My house is all electric, no gas lines in my neighborhood.   My problem is heat.  Our power was out for 34 hours, and the house got down to 44 degrees inside.  Still warmer than some, but not good.  We have a wood burning fireplace, but its built for ambiance and actually makes the room colder rather than warmer.  We are planning on buying an insert this week to fix that. We have solar panels on our roof, and 3 Tesla Powerwalls that hold 12 kW each.  We have a heat pump, but it only works above 40 degrees.  It was around 2 degrees Monday, and our furnace pulls 15 kW per hour.  We turned off the furnace and ran a couple space heaters, the fridge, and the wifi router, but the Powerwalls were empty after about half a day. After the storm ended, we were able to sweep snow off of half of the solar panels, and got enough to continue running wifi, but we didn’t even plug in space heaters.  It was a cloudy day, and we were hoping to fill the Powerwalls up enough to run the heat for 10 minutes in the evening. Verizon’s LTE network went down, so wifi was our only communication.  We’ve got blankets nailed over doorways, and we’re wrapped up in layers.  I’m not really interested in storing propane for a space heater that we use once every 5-10 years.  Any suggestions other than the fireplace insert?