Feb. 23—MABANK, Texas — Snow and ice are nothing new to Diana Armick.
After all, she grew up in Illinois and Indiana, eventually calling Logansport home. Winter storms were commonplace, and even a welcome change for a few months of the year.
But when her now-deceased husband, Logansport Police Department Sgt. Mark Armick, retired from the force, the couple decided to move closer to Diana's family. That meant heading south to a small town about an hour outside of Dallas.
And in the 10-plus years that Diana has resided in Mabank, the community has been faced with two major snowstorms — at least by Texas standards. In 2010, her husband "shoveled" the driveway with one of her good cookie sheets since snow shovels are not exactly easy to find. Then, Uri made a strong appearance on Feb. 15, sapping any heat from the city that usually sees an average of 50 degrees in February.
Diana said the thermometer dropped to 1 degree with the windchill approximately 17 below zero, making it feel well below zero. People were trying to keep their homes warm, leading to sharp spikes in power usage, which caused electric companies to issue rolling blackouts.
"I never lost my power," said Diana, "but they said the blackouts could last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes."
Her daughter, Anastacia Gatson, who lives nearby, went for a day and half with power flickering off and on. Her son-in-law, Josh Gatson, who is a police officer, was put up in a hotel in Dallas so he'd be available for his shift.
Meanwhile, her grandson, Jaden, who attends Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, said the campus' cafeteria was closed due to the windows getting broken from unusually cold temperatures and blizzard-like conditions. The ceiling of a Chick-Fil-A caved in after a small fire broke out and water flooded the place. Despite all of this, food could still be purchased and taken back to dorm rooms, where students bunked together for warmth.
While power has been restored, and her internet is back up after 36 hours of being offline, Diana said the effects of the winter storm are still felt. Her city remains under a "boil water" requirement. In fact, she said, her ice maker keeps putting out brownish-colored ice, meaning the water is still considered unsafe.
Plus, grocery shelves are empty. During the storm, stores, including Walmart closed their doors. When she was able to enter one, she couldn't find eggs, bread, or cold meat, among other items. A trip to a nearby grocery store, Brookshires, revealed hamburger, frozen foods, and bottled water were sold out. "But you could get beer," she laughed. "It's been kind of crazy, but the employees at Brookshires were super friendly and kind. They'd say, 'I know you probably can't find what you need, but is there anything I can do to help?'"
When the storm warning was issued, "I stocked up on everything that I could make with water," Diana said. "Then, we couldn't get water because of our electricity issues and we lacked chemicals to treat the water."
"Our wind turbines froze. This turned people off of green energy in a heartbeat," she said, explaining that some have received electric bills in the $5,000 to $7,000 range. Thankfully, she said, hers never jumped that high. However, she saw a $20 per day increase — and she never adjusted her heat setting above 63 degrees.
"This storm brought in bitter cold temperatures and powder snow. It was wicked and windy," said Diana, acknowledging that Cass and surrounding counties in Indiana had experienced similar frigid weather. "Those winters in Indiana can be brutal, but there are snowplows. (Crews) put down sand and people can still go to work. Here, it's literally a standstill. There are seven snowplows in Dallas for three counties. That's all we have, and we would need seven in this tiny area alone. With all of the overpasses in Dallas, there just aren't enough snowplows. So, this storm put us out of commission. The snowstorm did what the government has been trying to do — it kept us all in our homes."
Diana's neck of the woods received 6 inches of snow with an additional dusting a few days later. One of her friends, who lives further outside the city limits, reportedly had 3-foot snow drifts and was without power for 24 hours.
"People were panicked," she said, adding that frustrations over the winter storm continue on, but people are slowly getting back to normal — or as close to normal as possible. With the mercury rising to the mid-70s this week, Diana is looking forward to getting back outside where she can enjoy the heat.
"By the grace of God, we have been very, very lucky compared to other people who've had to go through months of it," she said, adding that in the end, "you just have to find the funny part of it. Somewhere, it's there. You might have to dig for it — through 6 inches of snow — but it's there."
Reach Kristi Hileman at email@example.com or 574-732-5150