A 600-gallon water tank in the author's garden had a three-inch layer of ice. (Photo by Kelley Snowden)

While some families in Deep East Texas may be coping with weather conditions and the loss of power and water, others are in a state of panic.

I have friends in Nacogdoches who have neither power nor water, and we can’t get to them because of the roads. One has a sick husband who can’t breathe well in the cold. They migrate from their house to the car to run the heat for him to get warm. The last message from her was that they maybe had a quarter of a tank of gas left. It’s horrible and they have no idea when power or water will be restored. She has put most of their refrigerator/freezer contents outside to save them and is collecting ice and snow to flush the toilet.

I have another friend in Mt. Enterprise, outside of Nacogdoches. Their woodshed collapsed the first night, then their run-in shed, out in the pasture, collapsed. Their horse was in the run-in shed at the time but managed to get out with only minor cuts. They are worried about their barn collapsing, so they are keeping their horse out of it.

Here in northeast Texas, we are starting to thaw but still have to make sure the ice is broken up in water tanks for the horses and pigs. Scott, my husband, has put heat lamps on the outside spigots to try to keep them from freezing. Neither horses nor pigs deal well with the cold. We have to make sure they are drinking enough water and doing their business, so no one colics or gets an impaction.

We currently have water and power, although it was down for 24 hours earlier in the week. We have a generator, but not one large enough to heat the house. Luckily, I had saved my Wisconsin winter wear from graduate school, so we managed to stay somewhat warm in the house. That said, although I still have my parka, I own only four sweaters for Texas winter wear, and two pairs of wool socks, and that’s probably twice what most people own here. We have ice storms, sure, but not this. Nothing like this. Ever. The wild birds are coming in by droves to eat at our feeder. We are having birds that never come to feeders fly in, in large flocks. A friend in Louisiana has brown thrashers coming to her feeder, surely a sign of the end times.

Scott tried to leave our property twice during this mess to get into town, against my advice. Both times he had to turn back. The third time he was successful, but the round trip took three hours. We live 15 minutes from town. Once he got there, he went to the grocery store to get some more supplies. He said the shelves were pretty much bare. No meats, no bread, most canned goods gone, and the produce was picked over. Most cold packed foods were gone. And of course, all the toilet paper was gone. To top it all off, weirdly enough, all dry dog food was gone. He got what he could and came home.

Kelley Snowden lives in northeast Texas.