My Firsthand Experience with the 2021 Polar Vortex

We want to provide our children with the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. So, what happens when one or more of those needs is threatened by a traumatic event such as a weather catastrophe?

Beginning on Thursday February 11, 2021 such a catastrophic weather-related event was unleashed upon me and my family, and upon hundreds of thousands of other families in Austin, Texas. Freezing temperatures and frozen rain were the welcoming act of a menacing Polar Vortex that has wreaked havoc throughout our city with downed trees, dangerous road conditions, significantly long periods without power, loss of water, food shortages, and a lack of faith in the leaders who are responsible for preventing an infrastructure failure of this magnitude.

Hearing the trees creak before they broke apart in our backyard was not near as discerning for my family as we experienced 48 hours without power in below freezing temperatures. Layering in clothing throughout the day and bundling in blankets were the surface ingredients to maintain warmth while our family’s strong bond was our internal source of resilience. We were blessed with the generosity of neighbors, whose power stayed on, as they opened their kitchen for me to plug in our slow cooker so that my family could enjoy a hot meal in our cold house. We learned that one of our dogs enjoyed being swaddled in a blanket while our other dog growled at the gesture.

Our bigger dog loved being swaddled in a blanket while our smaller dog growled at the gesture.

While our power has stayed on, the water in our house has turned off. Fortunately, moments before the water stopped my wife filled pots with water for filling the dogs’ water bowls, washing our hands, brushing our teeth, and other needs. We learned yesterday that filling the bathtub with snow and ice makes for a great resource to flush the toilets.

As woeful as the challenges are for me and my family, we are grief stricken for so many families in our city whose power was off well beyond 48 hours – some if 72 to 96 hours. As I write this, I am aware that power has not fully been restored to everyone in the Austin area. Both of our children desperately want to help those in need, and they are disappointed that road conditions are too dangerous to venture out and offer food or even a warm hug/fist-bump.

Our children wearing layers and wrapped in blankets weathering the cold house.

Frustration and anger are high on my list of current emotions; directed at leaders of entities that in my opinion should have had a better handle of ensuring that facilities and resources were better equipped for an atrocity such as the one we are encountering.

Writing is a cathartic process for me and sharing my experience and feelings with you my dear reader is a relief. In fact, just having typed out my inner turmoil is a release, allowing me to focus on keeping my family – dogs included – safe and warm in these most unfortunate circumstances. My takeaway is that even in the most challenging and traumatic of times, it is essential to stop, take a breath, write it down, get it out, and move on.

My takeaway is that even in the most challenging and traumatic of times, it is essential to stop, take a breath, write it down, get it out, and move on.

So, 2021 Polar Vortex, you ain’t got the best of me. I am all over you with the strength of my family and nothing can break that.

Joshua Levy is the President of Joshua Levy Educational Consulting. Joshua works with parents, educators, and children’s museums who are seeking to strengthen their relationships with individuals with special needs. Joshua is also the Founder/Executive Director of Joshua’s Stage – an enrichment program for individuals with a wide range of special needs, featuring: after-school programs; camps; workshops, and individual enrichment programs in theatre arts, improv, arts and crafts, music, dance, photography, and create-a-story. Joshua’s innovative The Creative Outlet Method includes strategies for providing children with the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity, increase their self-confidence, and build their social skills. Joshua’s book, The Creative Outlet Method Book of Creativity: At-Home Activities for Children with Special Needs is a fabulous resource for parents, educators, and therapists. Contact Joshua at jlevy@joshuaconsults.com.

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