2013 Recap: The Ice Storm

Originally published on November 23, 2014


Around this time last year was the ice storm. Temps dropped so much that the tri-county area was covered in a thick blanket of ice. Some power lines had inches of it that they snapped off the pole as a result. While Marfa lost power for a little over 24 hours, some surrounding areas didn’t have power for weeks, including Thanksgiving weekend.

It was pretty rough.

Here’s my recap of that weekend.

I used a small flashlight to guide me through a dark Marfa the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Every now and then a car would drive by, but other than that, it was straight up an episode of that Revolution show.

You know, that show about the world permanently losing power?

Anyway, when I saw that red beacon of light that said “BEER,” I thought to myself “Sweet. I can charge my cell phone.”

I had just gotten home from an intern brunch earlier that day when the power went out. As a former Marfa Public Radio intern, general manager Tom and his wife Katherine invited the staff, current interns and a few past interns to their house for brunch on Sunday morning.

It was delicious.

So I was at least fed right before the (unexpected) long night ahead of me.

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I was only home for about 30 minutes sitting at my desk watching a movie, when I heard my computer make that familiar beep telling me it’s unplugged. It took me a bit to realize it was from a power outage. I glanced at my electric heater and noticed the light was off.

Great.

Fort Davis, a neighboring town, had already lost power from the ice storm the night before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised our town was next. It was still disheartening when it happened though.

I immediately text my friend Jefferson, an intern at Marfa Public Radio, to ask if they still had power at the station, hoping it wasn’t just me.

After all, my electric bill wasn’t due til the next week.

They didn’t.

So I walked over to bring the pan he wanted to borrow for Thanksgiving. I figured I didn’t have anything to else to do (except try not to panic and freeze in my apartment), so I might as well get that taken care of while the sun was still out.

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When I showed up, Tom and Jefferson were trying to figure out how to keep the station going. There’s a backup generator, but Tom knew it wouldn’t last long. I took in as much heat as I could at the radio station while it still lingered in the building and drank a cup of still-warm coffee.

To pass time, I walked around and took photos of downtown Marfa covered in ice.

After all, I’m a reporter.

There were icicles everywhere. Some of them would fall when I walked by, which was creepy. I don’t want my cause of death to ever be “killed by an icicle to the head,” so I tried to walk as far as I could from them. There was ice on the plants. The water fountain at the Hotel Paisano froze in time, which everyone and their mother (including me) took photos for their Instagram.

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I called my dad and brother to let them know what was going on. I debated over that because I didn’t want them to worry. But I also didn’t want them to find out there was no power from someone else, and with my luck, my phone would be off when they tried to call me, and they would make a six-hour worried-fill trip to try to save me. My dad took the news surprising well.

I’ve learned during the power outage that I get really bored really easily. I was so, so bored. There was no internet. I had to conserve my phone and laptop batteries so I couldn’t really listen to music or watch a movie to kill time. I did some reading and laid around at my apartment. Fun times, for sure.

Tom and Katherine were nice to loan me some blankets so I wouldn’t freeze overnight with my heater being electric and all. At least I could still cook with my gas stove. Dinner was leftover hot chocolate from the night before and some eggs, which I made with the guidance of a flashlight. I set up a workstation at my desk by clipping a small bike light to my iPad and did some transcribing by hand, because deadlines don’t care. The paper was still coming out this week.

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I had just finished watching the rest of a movie on my laptop when I got the text from Jefferson that people were at the Lost Horse. Of course a bar, especially that one, would be one of the very few places in Marfa with power.

Ty Mitchell, bless him.

The bar wasn’t too crowded, but it felt like any other Thursdays (which is dollar draft night) to me. There was music playing. People were drinking. Some were playing pool. You could have forgotten it was pitch black outside those doors. However, the chili someone made didn’t last very long at all, which reminded me why we were there.

I let Zane, another Marfa Public Radio intern, use my phone charger to charge his phone. His battery was almost out, and I still had 50 percent so he was in more dire need. Plus, where were we gonna go? Back home?

Actually, that’s what I kept wondering when people would leave. Did people just go back to their powerless homes? To me, that just didn’t sound appealing, especially with cell phone service down. I felt safer around other people, and hanging out in the dark was kinda depressing.

Zane kept joking the zombie apocalypse was coming, and I couldn’t help but not doubt it could happen. I’ve seen way too many horror movies in my lifetime, and I never thought I would end up in small town West Texas with no electricity during an ice storm, and that happened, so nothing would have surprised me after that. It was the type of situation that makes you question life decisions. And makes me constantly worry if I have enough cell phone battery in case it happens again.

I was mainly worried that my train to Austin the next night would be canceled. I had been planning this trip for weeks, and for it to not happen because of the ice storm would have been the last straw. A girl can only handle so much bad news at once, you know?

When I got back to my apartment, I thought about staying up and doing some more transcribing, but I was cold. So I laid under my three blankets and went to sleep.

The power came back on around 4 p.m. the next day when I was in the nearby town of Alpine.

And my train wasn’t canceled.