Coping with winter storm scares as thousands lack power

People say the lack of reliable and timely information during two historic winter storms in two years brings trauma and fear.

AUSTIN, Texas — After experiencing two historic winter storms in two years, some are feeling concerned and traumatized saying there were no valid communications from the city of Austin during both events.

“Most of these burned out — every one of my tealights that I thought I had a lifetime supply of,” Juliee Byte said.

Byte was without power for seven days.

“Ridiculous, isn’t it?” said bytes.

It’s been a week of uncertainty about how she’ll eat, shower and keep warm.

“Two years ago, so many people died that it makes you wonder how bad it’s going to get?” Byte asked. “How am I getting cold? You know, we wore leggings under pants and shirts over shirts, over sweaters, over vests, over jackets with a hat around the house to sleep because, you know, it was 30-something outside,” Byte said.

She feels traumatized by another historic winter storm.

In 2021, hundreds died and thousands were without electricity and drinking water for days.

“It’s going to be a little bit jarring,” Byte said. “It makes decisions: do we stay? Let’s go? Shall we buy a generator? So it creates a lot of problems.”

Byte is not alone. Grace Dowd, the owner of Grace Therapy and Wellnesssaid it’s normal to feel fear and uneasiness when reliving disasters like this, even if you didn’t lose strength this time.

“That can automatically put your brain back into survival mode because it was doing whatever it could to survive then and now,” Dowd said. “It’s a very protective adaptation that our brain has to say, ‘Hey wait, you should pay attention to that.'”

Dowd said there are ways to deal with this:

  • First, acknowledge how you are feeling and give yourself grace
  • Turn to loved ones for support
  • Take time to hop back to school or work
  • Exercise can help, so try a walk

Dowd said it’s important to focus on the things you can control that will bring you peace of mind, like buying a generator, battery or whatever you can find with the resources you have.

Those who have not lost power may feel guilty. Community support might make this easier.

Don’t spend too much time on social media.

“Often our consumption is so high that our stress reduction cannot keep up with that consumption,” Dowd said. “So it gets stuck in our body, and that’s where we start to see our muscles get really tight and spasm. We might get a headache, we might feel really tired or nervous. We could clench our jaws, our shoulders could be high here.”

Byte said better and more reliable communications from the city would ease their anxiety.

“Tomorrow there will be thunder, lightning, rain,” Byte said. “So we’re looking at Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday now. We do not know it. You know I’d like to know All the neighbors want to know.”

Dowd said just know what you’re feeling right now makes sense and is valid.

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Laura Coffey

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