Austin is thought for its often gentle winters. However on February 12, a winter storm hit the state — resulting in over per week of freezing temperatures. This has resulted in a statewide catastrophe with thousands and thousands of Texas residents shedding energy or water, or each.
It’s too early to inform the precise toll this has all taken in lack of life, property harm and financial exercise. But it surely’s clear that this catastrophe is, and can proceed to be, devastating on many ranges. Austin-area hospitals even misplaced water this week, as a sign of how dangerous issues have been.
Since final Thursday, my very own family misplaced energy and bought it again a number of occasions. On February 17, we misplaced water, with no concept of when will probably be restored. I notice there are a lot of worse off than me, so I’ll spare you the pity get together, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly been a humbling expertise. Boiling snow/ice for bathroom water and rationing the little bottled water we had left with concern of frozen/bursting pipes. Not less than we now have been heat the previous couple of days, as many nonetheless don’t have energy.
In the meantime, over the previous few months (and years, actually), Austin has been making headlines for different information — specifically the truth that so many tech corporations, founders (ahem, Elon) and traders are both transferring their headquarters right here (Oracle), constructing important factories (Tesla) or workplaces (Apple, Google, Fb) right here, or are desirous about relocating solely.
The shortage of state earnings taxes has been a giant draw, in addition to the housing/land/workplace costs which are inexpensive when in comparison with these within the Bay Space. That is nothing new, however solely accelerated because the pandemic has inspired/compelled extra distant work.
Satirically, a number of the very issues which have led to the state being extra engaging to corporations have additionally contributed to the disaster: Fewer taxes means much less cash for infrastructure, for one.
But it surely goes past that. Many different states have had freezing chilly temperatures with out the lack of energy and water that Texas is presently experiencing. As The Washington Publish reported earlier this week, the state’s option to decontrol electrical energy led to “a monetary construction for energy technology that gives no incentives to energy plant operators to organize for winter. Within the title of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electrical grid that places an emphasis on low cost costs over dependable service.”
Even Elon shared his disappointment on Twitter:
It’s honest to say Texas has attracted widespread criticism of its dealing with of this new disaster — each by way of its lack of preparation and mismanagement (Sen. Cruz, we’re you). However are the occasions of the previous week going to remove a number of the shine on Austin as a possible relocation vacation spot for tech and traders? Will this deter individuals from wanting to maneuver right here? Isn’t it additionally ironic that some people who didn’t need to transfer right here as a result of scorching summer season temperatures at the moment are additionally slamming the town/state for the impacts of a serious winter storm?
So I did what many different enterprising tech reporters may do on this state of affairs, and took to Twitter. The outcomes had been just about as anticipated — diverse and passionate on both aspect.
There have been many tweets from Austinites who defended their metropolis and praised how its residents have come collectively throughout crises:
Then there have been some tweets from individuals who lived right here however are disgusted and dissatisfied:
There have been additionally some tweets from others who mentioned they had been so turned off they’d by no means ponder transferring to Texas or that they had been dismayed by the dearth of preparation:
And there have been those that don’t reside right here however scoffed on the notion that this was sufficient to maintain individuals away, whereas others identified that pure disasters occur throughout:
Then there have been those that joked that the catastrophe was engineered as a ploy to “hold California individuals away,” or no less than might need that impact:
I’ve lived on all three coasts — East, West and Gulf. There are pluses and minuses to every. This probably is sufficient of a deterrent to maintain individuals away. However I will say that the state may — and may — have been extra ready when it determined to decontrol electrical energy. I’m heartbroken in any respect the struggling individuals within the metropolis and state are coping with and for now, simply need to see issues get again to “regular” as quickly as doable so the one disaster we’re coping with is the COVID-19 pandemic. By no means thought we’d look again fondly on these days.
Right here’s to hoping that migration of techies can construct options that would possibly assist stop related disasters sooner or later.