As an agonizing week comes to a close for millions of Texans, some Texas-based bowlers continue to deal with the impact of frigid temperatures that have upended lives over the past week as the arctic cold interrupted the supply of power and water in their homes, in some cases for days, while others are grateful to have escaped the worst.
“People are melting snow in their barbeques so they can have drinking water because I guess the water supply is tainted. The cleansing system is out,” said PBA regional champion John Burkett, who lives in Fort Worth, which recorded a low temperature of 2 degrees on Monday morning and an afternoon high of 12 degrees later that day.
Paul Fleming, a former PBA Tour player living in northwest Fort Worth who in 2000 enjoyed finishes of fourth in the U.S. Open and third in the USBC Masters, said on Thursday that he had been without water at his home since Monday evening.
“Our neighbors across the street never lost water. I don’t know why. I went to Home Depot and got five-gallon buckets, and they’ve been allowing us to fill them up, and then that’s how we flush the toilets,” he said. “We tried to melt snow for the toilets, but a five-gallon bucket only made about two quarts of water.
“And then today, some friends in our neighborhood, they’ve had water since last night so they’ve got hot water, and they offered showers. That was great.”
Fleming, who has lived in Texas for 28 years, said he never had experienced a weather calamity of this magnitude there.
“We’ve had cold weather before, but not for this extended period of time. We used to live in Bedford, and we had a pool, and it got freezing and some of the pool pipes broke, but that was it. It’s never been this cold in 28 years for a week.”
Two-time PBA Tour champion Stu Williams, who lives in Plufgerville, Texas, with wife Tina and four-year-old son Brady, said his home went without power for three days. They toughed it out for a day, during which time the temperature dipped into the 40s inside their home. But the second day, as the overnight low fell to 6 degrees and they still were without power, they headed off to friend and PWBA Tour competitor Anggie Ramirez’s house in downtown Austin, about 20 minutes away.
“Just before we left, they turned the water off as well,” he said. “I guess the treatment plant wasn’t getting power either, so they ended up just turning the water off completely.”
Williams said that, before they headed to Ramirez’s house, Brady spent his time warming himself by their fireplace. “To be honest, the main issue we had was him not going in the fire,” he said with a laugh.
Three-time PWBA Tour champion Stefanie Johnson posted a photo on social media showing her home’s thermostat registering a temperature of 58 degrees inside her home. She lives with husband Chris and children Levi (6) and Kenzie (3) in McKinney, Texas, where the overnight low dipped to 3 degrees before dawn Tuesday.
“It felt way colder than what [the thermostat] said it was,” explained Johnson, who said the temperature inside her home fell to as low as 54 at one point.
“We had lots of blankets, so we layered up,” she said. “We did not stock up on fire wood so we did not have the fire place going, but we just stayed warm with our hoodies and socks and blankets… and my beanie.”
Johnson said the power at her house would stay on for an hour, then shut off for an hour, and continued in that on-and-off pattern for days.
“We’ve eaten out every night, because you don’t know what time the power is going to go out, so it’s kind of hard to plan a meal, and I don’t feel like eating in the dark,” she laughed.
Johnson said she thought her area was past the worst of it, as she had few problems with the power throughout the day Thursday. She also never lost water.
PWBA and USBC Hall of Famer Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, who lives in Keller, Texas, said her power was restored Wednesday afternoon after being on and off for three days. The longest stretch they went with no power was three-and-a-half hours, at which point the temperature inside their home fell to the mid 50s. She, husband Del, 16-year-old daughter Alyssa, and 81-year-old mom Mary Ann spent much of that time huddled around the fireplace.
“It’s amazing how inventive you become, and you realize how many candles you have in your house, and you can spread them out so you can walk upstairs,” she said.
“I love my coffee really hot, so I turned it on as soon as we got power, and then I shut it off. I went to get another cup and I went, ‘Oh, it’s not as hot as I like it.’ So I put it in a metal bowl, I brushed some of the fire embers into a pile, and then put it in my fire place, and let me tell you, it heated up.”
The Ballards still found a way to make the most of the snowfall in their area, as they went sledding on a snow-covered hill in their neighborhood.
“Even I went down,” said Carolyn, who is from New Jersey originally. “I loved doing that as a kid.”
Burkett is grateful that he himself has experienced no power or water shortages at his home.
“I didn’t realize when I bought my home that I bought it in an area where they don’t have their power or water shut off, because everybody I know has had their power shut off or their water shut off,” he said.
The former Major League Baseball All Star pitcher, who lives near the campus of Texas Christian University, said he thinks his proximity to a hospital spared him from the rolling blackouts and shutdowns of the water supply.
“I guess I’m in one of those essential areas where they don’t shut us down,” he said. “Hopefully, I don’t have any pipes break or anything like that.”
Burkett, who has lived in Texas since 1996, said he had experienced no weather event quite like this one over his quarter-of-a-century in the state. Though a significant ice storm caused roads to freeze over the weekend Arlington hosted the Super Bowl in 2011, “That was just two days. This has been close to a week. And back then, we didn’t have the power situation. It’s just unbelievable how many people are out of power and not getting water.”
Burkett said he has friends in the area who have tried to go grocery shopping only to find the shelves barren at their local grocer.
“We haven’t had mail in three days,” he added.
Brighter days seemed to be ahead as the weekend’s forecast showed temperatures reaching afternoon highs in the 50s by Sunday in the Dallas-Forth Worth area and in Pflugerville.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Fleming.