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Houston Resident Describes Difficult Days Without Running Water

A man fills a cooler with water from using a hose from a public park spigot Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Houston. (David J. Phillip/AP)
A man fills a cooler with water from using a hose from a public park spigot Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Houston. (David J. Phillip/AP)

Days after a deadly winter storm hit Texas, Alma Roberts finally ventured from her home in Southwest Houston and stood in a long line at a local store in search of water.

“We have been boiling water. We’re running out fast,” Roberts says. “But we’re using the last of our drinking water for cooking, for washing dishes, you know, the necessities.”

The unexpected storm knocked out the power and limited water access for residents. The storm left Roberts without power and scrambling to get groceries and water, she says.

Resources are scarce because shipments haven’t made it to the stores, limiting Roberts and others to what they can find in their pantries. 

“I’m sure the kids are tired of bread,” she says. “We’re out of bread, actually.” 

Roberts’ eldest son and husband are police officers and they haven’t had a day off yet. Roberts’ youngest son, who just finished with the police academy and is waiting to be evaluated, works between 12 to 14 hour shifts with little sleep, she says. 

But this isn’t the first time Roberts and her family have dealt with disasters. When Hurricane Harvey swept through in 2017, Roberts’ home was severely damaged. Her husband commented to her that during those times, there were resources available. They could take showers or bring in meals. 

That isn’t the case now. 

Roberts says sharing with her neighbors and other families helps her make it through. Her son’s girlfriend, her mother and grandmother came over with vegetables one day. With the chicken Roberts still had, they were able to make a stew. 

In spite of the challenges she’s facing now, Roberts hesitates to place blame on political officials. Still, leaders have a responsibility, she says. 

“A part of me — and I know this is probably not great — but a part of me wishes that their families or that they personally were going through it,” she says. “If these leaders or people in these positions could feel some of the frustration, you know, the financial ramifications of the personal losses. I think that they would be in a better position to help out.”


Jill Ryan produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Jeannette Jones adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.