North Texans without power and heat thankful for warming centers, friends, family

While waiting for the weather to warm up, many North Texans are turning to community warming centers or neighbors lucky enough to have power.

Churches, YMCA locations and rec centers were just some of the buildings being used to keep people warm and safe on Wednesday across the region.


Some found relief from dangerous conditions at the Fort Worth Convention Center, which has provided shelter for many -- including some who are homeless. Others ventured to neighborhood recreation centers.

"Some of my neighbors finally got electricity late [Tuesday] afternoon, but some of us are still out of power," said Mary Hernandez.

Mary and Tony Hernandez, for a time, were the only two inside the Handley Meadowbrook Rec Center in east Fort Worth.

"We had been burning firewood until we ran out. We heard about this place to try to charge up all of our electronics and, you know, where it’s warm, because we also have a dog," Hernandez said.

The couple says they’ll stay as long as possible and hopefully find restored power when they return home.

"Here it goes on day three with no power and it’s extremely frustrating. But there’s not much we can do. Thank God we have places like this," Hernandez said.


In Sunnyvale, Councilmember Kevin Clark says it’s very frustrating other communities are getting power back but Sunnyvale is still in the ice age.

"Some neighborhoods have been out 8 to 10 hour stretches and then they’ll be on for 30 minutes then back off for another 8 to 10 hours," he said.

Community Life Church, or C-Life as it’s known, opened its doors at the request of town leaders. Some are working from there because home has no power and no internet.

Pastor David Griffin says it’s been good.

"We’re functioning as a warming center places where people can get Wi-Fi to possibly heat up their soup if they need to or really spend the night," he said. "This is an opportunity for the church to be the church. And you can talk about it all day long, but this is an opportunity to serve the community."

While the wintry mix stopped falling Wednesday, at least two more nights of sub-freezing temperatures are on the way for many people who just want their power to come back soon.


Justin Barton lives in Benbrook. He and his family tried to tough it out for the first night.

"Thirty-eight degrees in our apartment is not livable," he said.

That's when Barton found a church at Benbrook was opening its doors and agreed to let them bring their dog.

"I was willing to stay in apartment in cold if had to," he said. "We weren't going to leave him behind."

Like many right now, Barton just wants answers.

"We are on day three now. Give us some indication of what you will do to fix it and apologize," he said. "It doesn't seem like anyone has apologized at this point."


Chris Kratovil lives in Las Colinas in North Irving with his family of six.

"It appeared to me from my layman's perspective they attempted rolling blackouts and did well with blackout part, but not the rolling part," he said. "A rolling blackout is I go without power for an hour and then you go without for an hour. It seems to have fallen on very hard on a handful of neighborhoods."

Kratovil made the difficult decision to uproot his family to live with a relative after being unable to find a single hotel room.

"We are lucky to have relocation site in close proximity," he said. "But 40-45 mile drive down Bush Turnpike I-20 was pretty harrowing."


Sarah Mack, her husband and 5-year-old son lost power in the middle of the night Sunday.

By Tuesday morning when the temperature hit a record low, conditions were unbearable.

"It was so cold when we woke up Tuesday morning," she said. "We realized we could not make it, so we came to my brother's house."

Like many, the Macks had stocked up on groceries only to watch as they ruined. And their swimming pool could be a much more costly loss.

Mack has a question many are asking.

"Multiple people I know who have experienced no power loss at all," she said. "I’m wondering how do they determine who doesn't get power and who does?"

Trying out some new dance moves is one way to pass the time and keep minds occupied during a difficult winter storm.

"We had to go into survival mode, we have to learn how to survive," said Elwanda McKinney-Smith.

McKinney-Smith and her retiree parents are at the home of a kind friend. All total -- eight people and 2 dogs are biding time until power at their homes is restored

"We were going to try and tough it out at first, but I got a call from my mom telling me her lights were out and she was cold," she said.

McKinney-Smith — without a plan—picked her parents up and just drove around to warm them up. Then she thought of her friend.

"I just happen to call her and ask her if she had any power and she said yes. She said, ‘You don’t have any?’ And I said no. She said, ‘Come on over here!’ and we loaded up."


Tips for conserving power and what to do if you lose power during North Texas snowstorm

North Texans share warm stories of neighbors who have helped them

ERCOT says winterizing power plants optional, power won't be fully restored until at least Thursday