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Published March 16, 2021

Feb. 17 created its challenges

In the middle of the big freeze, the best came out in people

By John Toth / The Bulletin

Feb. 17 was not an ordinary Wednesday.

Water pipes burst from the extreme cold, most of us just wanted the power to come back on and stay on for longer than 25 minutes, and water pressure became only a memory.

We still had a few freezing nights to go before warmer temperatures returned. We were in the middle of the hardest and longest freeze this area had ever seen.

“Do you think the Health Department will be open today,” asked Sharon. We were scheduled to get our second Moderna shot at 11 a.m.

I planned to drive over to the motel room I rented as a safety net. We could use the restroom, take showers and work there while the broken pipes at the house awaited repair. Then I planned to drive around to see what’s open and search for a gas station so that I could fill up the van.

The motel room had the same problems that we had at the house, without the leaking pipes - no water, no power, no Internet. That wasn’t any help. Next, I searched for gas. Buc-ees at Hwy. 288 and Hwy. 35 was open and doing brisk business.

I sure was glad that they added those extra pumps a while back. No waiting. I pulled up to one of the pumps and filled up the van. That was a big relief.

Then, it was time to head back to the house. Oh, yeah - I was going to also check on whether the Health Department was open. I doubted that it was, but I drove by there anyway.

The lights were on, and people were going inside. It was 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes before our appointments.

“I can’t believe that you’re open,” I told the clerk by the door. “This is amazing.”

“We’re open as long as we have power,” she said. “You can come in earlier than your appointment, or later. We’ll get you in.”

I rushed home, grabbed Sharon, and we hurried back to the clinic. This was going to be the second of two shots, the shot that would seal the deal and eliminate - in about two weeks - the paranoia we have been through since the Covid virus came on the scene.

We’re very thankful that we had not caught it. We have been very careful, but I’ve read stories about people dying after they caught Covid, and they did everything right. It is a crapshoot. There is no telling if or when the virus could get you, and if it does, what happens then?

We didn’t waste a second rushing to the clinic, gave the friendly clerk our paperwork and sat down to wait our turn. Please, power company, I was thinking, do not shut off power to this building. Just roll past it for now. Let us get our shots.

We got the shots together. The nurse asked us if we had any damage to our house, Yes, we did. She said her living room ceiling caved in from a leaking pipe in the attic. “Thank you for doing this,” I said, “even though you had that happen.”

“It’s warmer here,” she said and laughed.

Then it was done. In about two weeks, the vaccine would go into full gear, and we would be protected against the virus - for a while, anyway. That was a big relief.

Then we drove around looking for an open store to get a few supplies. Dollar General looked dark from the outside, but people were going in. We drove up to check it out.

“There is no power, but they’ll let you in, cash only because their registers are not working,” said one of the clerks outside the store.

We shopped in the dark and found everything we needed. We even loaded up on hand wipes, since we could not wash our hands with water.

It would have been easier for the workers to lock the doors and wait for power to come back on.
“We’ll do it until we run out of merchandise,” said one of them. “People need supplies. We’re glad to help.”

And I was glad that they decided to open. A lot of people waiting outside for a chance to go in were also glad. It was an act of kindness, and the community benefited.

On the way back, we wondered what the chances were that power would still be on at the house. As we got closer, we saw some outside lights on. Yes, we still had power. We opened the door and walked into a warm house.

Yes, Feb. 17 was no ordinary Wednesday.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)