DALLAS — If anger, angst and frustration could be used to spin the blades of an electrical turbine, Texas would have more energy and warmth than the entire frozen southern United States might need.
WFAA opened a phone line for viewers to share just how bad their situations are as they deal with the winter storm. From Garland to Granbury, and Wylie to Waxahachie, viewers showed that wherever you live, you are most definitely not in this alone.
“Rolling blackouts, I think not. I have friends who have been without power this whole time, and here I am in a house with a toddler and it's 40 degrees. We are freezing,” a woman named Ashley said from her home in Dallas.
"We're scared. We're confused. We've been without electricity since Monday morning,” added another caller from the south side of the city. “We’re making due the best that we can but this is really nerve wracking, especially when we have no idea when it will come to an end."
Each caller shared they were in their home with thermostats plummeting to the 40s and 30s. Many said they were huddled in front of fireplaces, but running out of wood. Some have even taken to tearing apart wooden pallets and any recycled cardboard they can find to burn.
Others are spending time in their vehicles in their driveways (as WFAA's Kevin Reece did while he wrote this story) using cigarette lighters and inverters to chare electronic devices. Some are also using the car heater for a few moments of warmth.
A reminder: NEVER run a vehicle in an enclosed space like a garage. Always make sure there is adequate ventilation. North Texas hospitals are already dealing with multiple carbon monoxide incidents from people running vehicles, generators, or outdoor cooking appliances in an enclosed space.
“It’s freezing in my house. I have pets. I have an elderly mom. I have children there. And the government don't give a s***,” one woman said.
But if you could bottle up the anger in these phone calls maybe we'd have a new power source.
"They need to fix this freakin’ mess. I've been without power since Sunday. You call them, you can't get through. They don't respond. This is a freakin’ mess."
"I come from Chicago,” another caller said. “So there is no way we are without power because of the energy supply and demand, that's crap. I'm frustrated. This is ridiculous. I'm nine months pregnant sitting at home unable to leave and do anything."
“I really think this is criminal, some people should definitely resign over this."
"He was talking about this being a historic even. That's no excuse,” said a man in his 80’s from Keller, talking about WFAA’s interview with the director of ERCOT. “They should have been prepared for this. People are suffering because of the lack of planning by people in positions to do so."
"The biggest message I have is quit lying to us,” another caller said in reference to ERCOT and ONCOR promising only rolling outages. “All the old people that didn't know what to do and weren't given a warning. Quit lying to us is all I can say. Quit lying to us."
And one final note to show this is a completely shared experience, power returned, albeit briefly at Reece's house in Dallas at noon on Tuesday. Two hours later, with an explosion reminiscent of a 12-gauge shotgun, the nearest transformer exploded in a cloud of smoke. The Dallas Fire Department responded, deemed the fire out, and alerted ONCOR of yet one more issue to fix. So, he has no power for the foreseeable future either.
Our team of WFAA staff, most without power at their homes too, is also working in a variety of unique locations including driveways, hotel rooms, and a fleet of vehicles -- thankfully installed with electrical inverters.
So, let's cling to this message from a viewer in Fort Worth.
"We're gonna figure this out,” she said in her voicemail. “What I would ask is, we need hope. I'm lucky I have a fireplace. But we need hope. I need a timeline. I need to know that somebody is doing something. I need hope!”
Hope and heat - we'd all like to see soon.