During the past week, Texas suffered a historic snowstorm, leaving millions of people across the state without power or clean, running water. In College Station alone, the nearly five inches of snow prevented many businesses from opening their doors to customers. The effect of this snow served only to increase the strain on small businesses' bottom line, as the COVID-19 pandemic has already left many owners hurting.
The first reason businesses were shut down in Texas was the road conditions. During the storm, many of the roads were covered completely with ice and snow, making driving extremely difficult for the average Texas driver. Because the government did not invest heavily in snow plows, like our neighbor Arkansas, many workers and customers were left stranded in their homes with little to do but wait for the snow to dry up.
The second reason small businesses could not open was the lack of power in certain areas of Texas. This lack of power was the result of many factors, but essentially, Texas was not prepared for a major winter storm. The outages would end up leaving three million Texans without power, including the countless companies that could not open their doors due to the lack of electricity. Sadly, even the places who did have power and remained open would have a rough time getting customers into the store, as conditions on the roads were subpar at best.
Another issue many residents and small businesses had to endure was the bursting of pipes. Because of the cold weather and the lack of preparedness in Texas, many people did not know to keep the water running in either the sink or the bathtub. Without the running water, many pipes would end up leaking, leading to flooding throughout much of the state. This issue of pipes bursting was also compounded by the fact that the roads were in such bad condition. With infrastructure almost completely unusable and repair crews needed in so many areas, it took hours for people to get help. Many smaller companies lost everything in floods from their pipes leaking.
It is no secret many Texans were not prepared for such a massive weather change. From the government not having salt or snow plows ready to the electrical companies not being able to handle the amount of electricity needed, the whole week will end up going down as one to remember for the already hurting small businesses in the state.
So, after hearing all of the terrible experiences of many Texans throughout the snowstorm, there remains the question of what can be done to prevent this from happening again. One of the most helpful things the government could do is to invest in ways to keep roads open in bad conditions. As we saw last week, one of the major problems was the inability to drive on the roads. By investing in snow plows and salt, the government can help to prevent future storms from wreaking so much havoc on the infrastructure. There is already heavy use of these storm-fighting measures in states like Wisconsin, so it's about time we bring them to Texas.
Private companies can also do a lot to improve the situation in Texas. By simply upgrading the power grid to handle the extreme cold, many people and places or work would not have lost power. In the future, the companies who help to keep the lights on throughout Texas will have to learn from their mistakes.
In the end, the snowstorm shut down many businesses, left people stranded in their homes and prevented folks from driving on the roads. In the future, the state government as well as the companies who run the power grid will learn from the mistakes made during the past week. Although it will take much work to prepare Texas for another storm like the one we saw recently, when the next one arrives, Texas needs to be ready for it.