A Buzzfeed News report shows that the number of deaths from the Texas winter storm is likely three or four times higher than the official count.
In February, Texas was hit with a massive winter storm that left the entire state paralyzed. Electricity grids failed statewide, leaving roughly 19 million people without power for an average of 42 hours, according to a University of Houston study. Many homes went up to five days without electricity, leaving people in cold temperatures with few ways to get warm.
The icy roads meant many were stranded by themselves unless they could walk somewhere. And even if it were possible to drive somewhere, many businesses were closed or short-staffed. Hospitals especially were running low on manpower as the frigid temperatures exacerbated at-risk individuals.
Buzzfeed News found that somewhere between 426 and 978 more people died in Texas the week of the winter storm than was reported by officials. These deaths were not counted in the state’s official toll, however, because they all had preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, arrhythmias and more. The cold temperatures made it exceptionally difficult for people with diseases, and many lost their lives during the week because they were unable to seek proper medical treatment. Even the following week after the storm, Buzzfeed News found an uptick in deaths likely due to hypothermia from the storm. However, due to their previous medical issues, the death was not counted by the state in the official death toll from the storm.
As a Texan who lost power for five days, I know the mental and physical toll it took to survive that week. Even as a young, healthy millennial, making it through that week was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. (Truthfully, it’s still a tough to talk about.) I am forever grateful for a neighborhood that provided love and support for one another, whether it was sharing food or just a simple check in. The people of Texas showed up to support one another in a true, Southern hospitality way.
But now it’s time for Texas lawmakers to show support for its constituents. The Texas legislative session will close at the end of the month. With less than a week to go, lawmakers have yet to finalize a proposal that would address some of the vulnerabilities that left the Texas infrastructure so weak in February. And this Texan wants to remind lawmakers of Isaiah 1:27, which says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Months after the storm, friends and families who lost loved ones are still trying to find peace. Texans lost more than just power that week; they lost parents, siblings, grandparents, coworkers, neighbors. The state may not attribute many of these deaths to the storm, but those left behind know the truth. Fatherless-children are looking for justice, and widows are pleading for their cause. Texas lawmakers now must learn to do good.