Texas Stormageddon… Again?

Manoela Spinella Vaz, Assistant Editor

 

In 2021, Storm Uri. In 2022, ice and snow. Now, in 2023, meteorologists predict snowstorms in Texas and Oklahoma. 

“We’re not really accustomed to dealing with this,” Texas House of Representatives Representative Patterson said. “Even though we prepare every year, every year we have new issues.”

Typical concerns can range from power grid issues and dangerous roads, to frozen pools and flooding. Thankfully, the city of Frisco is coming together to minimize all possible issues.

“Our emergency response team works directly with the National Weather Service, as well as the police, fire departments and news channels,” said Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney.

For many institutions, problems regarding the power grid are the most pressing ones. With lack of electricity comes problems such as flooding. The Frisco Independent School District had problems with flooding in an elementary school and Frisco High School’s auditorium; however, they were minimal in comparison to other school districts.

“School districts around us that stood within $70 million in damages,” Frisco Independent School District Emergency Management Director Jon Bodie said. “Our damages were almost nothing thanks to maintenance who drained off all of the water systems in our buildings over the 24 to 36 hour period before they turned off the electricity.”

In order to prevent severe damages from happening in this coming storm, the city of Frisco and COSERV have been working to winterize their systems. Coserv’s Manager of Marketing and Communication has announced that they have been buying energy off the market ahead of time to prevent sharp rise in prices. 

According to the Texas State Representative, the power grid has been thoroughly checked to avoid any future complications. 

“After Uri in 2021, we went through and inspected every single power plant in the entire state that had an issue during winter storm Uri,” Texas House of Representatives Jerrad Patterson said “Last December, they did that and made sure that all of those items were corrected before last winter.” 

With a large number of sectors involved in winterizing the city of Frisco, communication is a key aspect of the process. 

“One of the main changes that we’ve made at the state level is getting a lot of the parties together under one umbrella with the Texas Department of Emergency Management,” Representative Patterson said. “We did this to better coordinate resources and flow of information.”

Past experience with winter storms have, once again, provided authorities with more information for improvements. 

“I think one of the most frustrating things about Uri was just the lack of information to people,” Representative Patterson said. “One of the best things that the state of Texas has done is consolidating all different entities to make sure that we’ve got a coordinated effort in terms of communicating the facts on the ground and  helping put resources where they’re needed.”

In order for citizens to be aware of what is happening and what steps to take, the Frisco government suggested that citizens be in tune with local news channels.

“Our preferred communication is for citizens to sign up for one of our city channels,” Mayor Chaney said. “ We’ve got a variety of different channels that they can receive information from”

In regards to students, one of the biggest questions is whether or not the school will be closed. 

“The idea of winter weather specifically is to stay in front of it,” Bodie said. “To make sure that we do what we need to do to evaluate whether or not opening school is a safe thing to do.” 

To prevent disturbances to students’ learning, Frisco ISD has adopted a new calendar which sets winter back a week back than it normally would be, allowing more flexibility on snow days. 

“Frisco did a unique thing this year, where the fall semester goes all the way to December 23,” Representative Patterson said. “The benefit of doing that is that the time period where you’re out of school, goes deeper into the more harsh time in the winter.”

Regardless of discrepancies on the school schedule, the safety and well being of the students are the main priorities in the district’s mind. 

“The safety and security of our students and staff is certainly my primary focus,” Reedy High School’s Principal Jon-Eric Ziaer said. “While there might be some gaps created in the learning, we have to at that moment prioritize the safety and security of our staff.”

Even with all efforts combined, the uncertainty of the storm still persists. However, citizens can be reassured that their community is doing their best to take care of Frisco’s and its citizens.

“We’re gonna do everything we can to get out in front of it,” said Bodie.