Wes Tyler, CEC, CCA, Executive Chef at The Club at Carlton Woods, offers a first hand account of the winter storm that hit Texas in mid-February.
As though 2020 was tumultuous enough, winter storm Uri wrecked the Southern United States and left Texas in shambles as it moved up the country. In its wake were millions of Texans without power or water. Roads, homes, businesses and clubs were impacted across the state. Grocery stores and pantries went bare as Texans scrambled to prepare for the unknown.
Now this is not an entirely unique occurrence for this area given the annual hurricane season, but even the most prepared among us were impacted in myriad ways.
In anticipation of the storm, we had to deploy a variety of safety protocols based on weather forecasts. As many local restaurants and small business attempted to secure their buildings, we first focused on making sure our employees and members got home safely before the arrival of Uri. Once we set that plan in motion, we moved into what we anticipated would be a brief closure. We preemptively cancelled our Valentine’s dinner and all other events at the club. We secured the kitchen and clubhouse as best we could. Then, we went home to our families and hunkered down.
Within hours, the rain turned to an icy, wintry mix before shifting into a full on snowfall. The temperatures plummeted and the roads became impassible.
When we woke up the next morning, thousands of homes were without power. This was just the beginning of hurdles ahead but it did open our eyes to the realization that we might be in for more than we had bargained for.
As many our members and colleagues hunkered down under blankets for warmth, we used candles for light and began to prepare for another cold few days. The problem is that South Texas is not organically set up structurally for weather and temperatures this cold. Water pipes began to burst. Ceilings and walls caved in for many of our members and hundreds of homes flooded.
Four days after it started, Uri has passed and we all arose from our shelters to assess the damage. Contaminated water lines forced boil water advisories city wide and millions were still without power and water. There was also a depleted food supplies for many. As we faced a state of emergency, angels began to appear on the streets. Strangers helped one another gather their life back, find a warm place to stay and offered food to eat.
Post disaster damage control is our current reality both in Texas and at The Club at Carlton Woods. Blowers are drying the carpets and floors in our flooded clubhouse. Dehumidifiers are scattered about and my team and I are combing through our thawed freezers, taking inventory of the damange from the prolonged power outage. On the bright side, we have been able to offer safe water to many of fellow community members who were still without access.
In the days after the storm, I called each of my employees to check on them. The extent of the devastation is far-reaching. Nearly everyone I talked to was impacted in one way or another. Some only had to deal with rolling blackouts while others face severe water damage, and no power or potable water for the unforeseen future. Some staff members were even displaced from their homes.
Tragically, this is the story as we pick up the pieces. But those angels continue to show up, supporting one another with hot meals, water and shelter.
As of now no one knows the long term impacts on our supply chain, but it that information will continue to come to light in the coming days, weeks and months. Poultry, produce and dairy shortages will be at the forefront of supply chain issues. Local Texas farmers are suffering catastrophic losses and large purveyors were forced to freeze perishables and halt seafood shipments.
It will certainly be a challenge restoring and maintaining standards and schedules. But we will hold true to our core values here at The Club at Carlton Woods and we are ready to be tested. I’m certain that creativity will be maximized as we save what we can and make the best of this bad situation.