The past couple of years has been fraught with challenges that people have more or less learned how to manage through an agile approach and the ability to adapt, whether it be to pandemic-related restrictions, social issues, or extreme weather events like Winter Storm Landon or Uri.
The recent Winter Storm Landon sure came as a surprise that Texans had to endure head-on with limited resources. As such, it’s important to reflect on the level of preparedness Texans had for an extreme weather event like Landon, after it followed Winter Storm Uri, which proved to have deadly consequences.
As CAT insurance adjusters, it’s important to reflect on how Texans can set themselves up for success should another storm rock the power grid and how you can provide prompt property damage assessments.
What Texans Expected from Winter Storm Landon
After Winter Storm Uri left nearly 5 million people without power and almost 250 dead, state officials urged Texan residents to prepare for what they thought might be another deadly storm. With meteorologists identifying the storm’s path in late January, officials and residents pulled from their experience with Uri to prepare for what the Weather Channel dubbed, Winter Storm Landon.
The National Weather Service issued a warning, letting Texans know what they should expect: freezing temperatures and wind chill, heavy snow, freezing rain, ice accumulation, and potentially hazardous traveling conditions. As such, schools were closed and people were urged to stay indoors.
With many homes, residences, and general Texas infrastructure not constructed to withstand the cold, Texans were ill-equipped to deal with Uri properly. Since then, tips on how to stay warm and get through power outages were shared on TikTok and other social media platforms as “prepper” content. The big takeaways: build a tent in a room to insulate you and family members, have a winter kit handy, a one- to two-week supply of nonperishable food and bottled water, blankets, extra warm clothes, a first-aid kit, portable lights, a battery-powered and extra batteries, just to name a few.
The Real Impact of Winter Storm Landon
The reality of Winter Storm Landon is that the storm was the “most significant icing” in decades for Texas, according to Gov. Greg Abbot. Some Texans were trapped in their cars for up to 12 hours on a major San Antonio freeway. And although Abbot said infrastructure had been improved since Winter Storm Uri, promising he could “guarantee the lights will stay on,” power outages still occurred for about 70,000 people across the state. 2,000 homes were out of power.
The grid, however, did hold up during Landon.
Many of the warnings issued amounted to be true, with significant freezing temperatures and wind chill, heavy snow, freezing rain, ice accumulation and terrible car crashes. Three Texans died from icy road condition accidents.
Home generators were touted as a useful resource Texans should acquire for survival during cold snaps, but the wait for one is months long—and storms like these don’t come sometimes until days or hours before they happen. Innovation in other areas like the automotive industry are touting solutions to winter storms should the power grid fail again: the Ford 5-150 Lightning, a battery on wheels that can power a home. Unfortunately, the wait for that product is years long.
A lot of the real impact Winter Storm Landon had was triggering some Texans’ trauma and anger from Winter Storm Uri. With an out-of-date infrastructure that leaves residents vulnerable to a very real concern, residents were forced to relive their worst nightmare.
A Guide to Surviving the Storm
As the climate continues to change and extreme weather events increase, preparing for the worst is the key to survival. That being said, here are a few tips to keep in mind so you can be prepared whenever another winter storm hits:
- Don’t burn anything to stay warm and never use a gas generator indoors. Carbon monoxide and smoke poisoning was a big cause of death during Winter Storm Uri. Instead, open up cabinets and doors to ensure better circulation of heat to your pipes so they don’t freeze.
- Insulate the water pipes in your home and think about adding more insulation to your house where you can. Make sure you know where your main water valve is in case of a burst pipe. Fill up bathtubs with water in the day leading up to the storm in case your pipes freeze and need to flush your toilet.
- Get a winter survival kit, complete with a one- to two-week supply of nonperishable food and water (a gallon of water per person a day).
- Stock up on bottled water.
- Buy warm, insulating clothes and blankets where you can.
- Use battery-powered technologies like generators and radios.
- Sign up for emergency weather alerts in your region.
- Be sure to have a fully stocked first-aid kit at all times, complete with at least a week’s supply of any prescribed medication you’re taking.
- Keep emergency supplies like sleeping bags, snacks, water, a shovel, sand or cat litter, and a first-aid kit in your car.
2021 Training Insurance Adjuster School
Stay warm out there and stay safe as you hit the road and begin assessing property claims! If you’re not an adjuster yet, but you’re hoping to help out during catastrophes, sign up for our Texas All-Lines licensing course and visit our blog for weekly tips and tricks to make a successful career.