This past week Texas experienced a Texas-sized problem when a winter storm blew through the state, causing havoc throughout the region. Residents and businesses were challenged by the unseasonal weather drop that has claimed the lives of a dozen so far. As the temperature will turn in the last third of the month, the damage is done. Many have no power; in the mid to southern region of the state, people do not have adequate clothing to keep warm; reports of house fires have increased; pipes have burst. Even though Texas certainly has the resources to address its problems, it certainly wasn’t anticipating such a strong front. Some Texans are using their hybrid Ford pick up’s to power their generators for their homes.
The system that spread chaos this week will continue “to bring significant impacts from the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast US (Thursday)," according to the National Weather Service. "Significant ice accumulations and heavy snowfall are expected."
Approximately 78 million Americans are under a wide winter weather alert and more than 27 million are going to bed under a hard-freeze warning.
At least 38 people have died nationwide from winter storms or frigid conditions since last week, a time in which more than 2,500 records for the lowest maximum temperature for the date have been set.
Young & Sons Drywall started 16 years ago. Founder Mark Young, a member of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, explained that with his 50 employees, the commercial drywall contracting company has been shut down all week and expects business to resume next week.
The Spring Branch contractor has been awaiting the jobsites to reopen, yet this doesn’t seem likely until next week.
“We’ve just told everyone to stay home,” said Young. “Ninety percent of our people have busted pipes. There’s only a couple of jobsites that are trying to open again.”
In Houston, America's fourth-largest city, there are long lines for food, gas and supplies.
Power has been restored to millions in Texas (roughly half of its residents) but 13 million don't have access to clean, running water. In the some cities, officials have asked residents that water should "only be used to sustain life at this point."
Walls & Ceilings’ frequent contributor Tim Rogan, vice president of Houston Lath & Plaster, reported the situation was bad in the Houston/Galveston area.
“Me, my wife and dog stayed at the office—it had power and is a mile from home,” Rogan said. “We ran out of firewood yesterday. [Our] gas heat is good but the blower is electric. Our big generator wouldn't start, as the fuel line froze.”
His friend’s at Bayou City Wall Systems, of Houston, reported that temperatures inside homes dropped below 50 degrees.
Loads of emergency relief funds have been raised nationwide to be supplied to the disadvantaged/impacted residents of Texas. The American Red Cross has posted directives on how residents can help from afar.
Walls & Ceilings’ 2019 Contractor of the Year Integrated Interiors Inc., confirms that the business is still active, despite the storm. The company reports that most of the office staff has laptops and are working remotely.
“Some of us have lost power and/or internet so we have not been as productive as we’d like to be,” said Amy Bridges, assistant product manager of the company. “However, the majority of the projects, as well as new project bidding dates have been pushed back by the owners/GCs.”
The corporate office has remained “open” for those who choose to come in to work, she reported. “The office has not lost power or water, although we are on a water boil basis due to the city’s low water pressure.”
Bridges also said that various job sites have been temporarily closed for the following reasons:
- Field Safety
- The employees driving to/from the projects
- No electricity
- No water
- Frozen pipes
“The corporate office has remained open for those who choose to come in to work,” Bridges said. “The office has not lost power or water, although we are on a water boil basis due to low water pressure. Field work depends entirely on the owner/GC. If they are open and allowing construction/business we will have our people there as long as conditions are safe while in route, onsite and on the way home.”
Walls & Ceilings will do a more comprehensive report from other contractors throughout the state once the situation begins to improve.