Texas Storm Reveals a Disaster-Relief Tool - Outdoor Grills

Why can’t I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold, cold heart.

~ Hank Williams

In Texas, on Valentine’s day, 2021, there were many cold, cold hearts, not to mention more than a few cold, cold fingers and toes. Unfortunately, the next day it would be worse. A serious electrical failure was coming fast. An epic winter storm would turn the “Lone Star State” into a dangerous deep freeze that would leave residents in their homes for more than a week.

The weather emergency of ‘21 turned into a perfect storm for several reasons. Power generation from all the state’s electrical plants was caught off guard by the swiftness of the storm and the entire power infrastructure was crippled. “Rolling blackouts,” which were forecast to last no more than one or two hours, turned into 4 or 5 days. Utilities for more than 3.2 million people were halted or disrupted. Simultaneously, water purification plants throughout the state were slowed and stopped due to broken water mains and consumer overuse from dripping faucets.

Beginning on February 15th, the temperatures throughout the state were in the single digits. There was no electrical power for millions of shivering citizens, and there was very little safe water. Even the old-timers couldn’t remember a disaster of this order!

It was during this depth of despair that an old adage rang true again. “Necessity is the mother of invention, has never been more fitting. Why? Neighbors began helping neighbors survive! Some shared water. Some brought firewood. And a few outdoor chefs, with propane-powered grills, began feeding their neighbors. A new “emergency management tool” was discovered - Outdoor kitchen grills.

Outdoor Grills to the Rescue

Kathy Richardson lives with her two cute dogs - Baker and Sugar - in an upscale neighborhood on Jester “mountain” in Austin. The views of Lake Travis from her high elevation are stunning. The community is located where Highway 2222 (with twists and turns that are challenging in the best of weather) and Capital of Texas Highway (Highway 360) intersect. The only two roads that lead in and out of the homes on the hill are extremely steep and completely impassable when there is any type of freezing precipitation on the roads.

When the “Tex-Aggeddon” storm hit, the folks in Jester were going nowhere.

“I was sitting in the dark with my two dogs with three layers of clothes and Aunt Mildred’s old fur coat on,” Richardson said. “I guess I have been this cold before (I grew up on a farm), but never this cold, in the dark, in my own home, I had sweaters on my pups (which they hate) and we were all cold and miserable. They had some food and bottled water, and I was existing on protein bars and water. 

“Then someone knocked on my door. 

“I thought, ‘what crazy person is out in this weather?’ I opened the door and almost started to cry. It was my next-door neighbor Dave, and he was smiling ear to ear. He said something like ‘Anybody hungry in here?’ He then handed me a plate with the biggest burger I have ever seen, with grilled vegetables and flour tortillas. They were all still hot. Steam was coming off the plate.

“Dave and his wife Joanie had been grilling burgers for the entire cul-de-sac and he was doing his own door-to-door delivery service by walking over treacherously iced sidewalks! Oh, my goodness! That was the best meal I have ever eaten in my entire life.”

The Backup Kitchen

“We have heard stories from around the state about people using their outdoor entertainment space for a “backup” kitchen,” said Britt Stokes of Acme Brick. “With more people staying at home for meals due to the pandemic, we have seen sales of our RCS grills skyrocket. It is rugged and dependable. The RCS grills are designed for the weekend cookout, or maybe the next natural disaster. With propane stainless steel burners and steel cooking grids, these grills will provide many years of quality cooking, even in the toughest storms. They are only available from highly respected distributors such as Acme Brick Tile & Stone

“Add a couple of our Bromic patio heaters, and the grill master can keep warm out there, even if it’s 10 degrees.

“When you think about it, it makes complete sense. If you lose power in an ice storm - or even after a tornado or hurricane passes - and you have a good grill and a supply of propane, you’re good to go!”

Ice, snow, cold, wind, and rain can cause power outages and the best “back-up” is an outdoor kitchen. It’s also pretty great for those balmy, spring evenings when neighbors join you for dinner. For more information, contact us.