20th February 2021, Baaghi TV: Baaghi TV has taken an insight from the Pakistani community residing in Texas in the United States, regarding their experiences during the recent storm.
Texas, one of the states that falls in the sunbelt of the United States that also includes California and Florida, has been struck by an unprecedented winter storm in February this year. The internet space is full of memes about the lack of familiarity that Texans tend to have in dealing with snow. This is because it is rare for such a cold winter to hit this state. International media is full of reports of the havoc wreaked statewide.
Pakistani Community in the Texas Storm
Here Baaghi TV exclusively presents a unique perspective on the storm regarding the Pakistani community have dealt with the storm, and how it has affected their lives, on the basis of personal and anecdotal accounts.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis live in Texas. In Austin, Texas, there is a severe shortage of water. Pakistanis, like other residents, find groceries difficult to procure, and have to resort to using snow for household use. Industries have shut down due to a power failure that has had wide-scale implications. Austin has a crucial chip manufacturing industry which has suffered. This has had a direct impact on the economy of the state. The absence of regulation in the power sector has created difficulty for residents. The renewable energy sources of the state have severely suffered due to the storm, and have been unable to efficiently provide power.
In the populous city of Houston, there is a large immigrant population, which includes a large number of Pakistanis. The Pakistani community has faced different problems due to the Texas storm. Many elderly Pakistani couples live apart from their grown-up children. It has been particularly difficult for them to deal with the situation. Pakistani families first tried to use coal for cooking, then when it ran out they resorted to twigs and sticks from nature. When these two were no more available, they took to the hazardous driving of a snow-covered road to try to find a halal restaurant that happens to be open, whether it is for food, or just tea.
Those who were able to charge their mobiles were updating their information on Facebook community pages. Many Pakistani businessmen offered free services of different kinds, including hotel stays for elderly people who were suffering through to the cold and no light.
Roads were covered with a layer of ice underneath the snow. It is particularly difficult to drive over because the brakes lose efficiency when the car slips. It turns into treacherous black ice. There were also 3 to 4 days long power shutdowns.
ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) operates Texas’s electrical grid and manages the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state. It was said that there was a supply and demand issue that emerged due to the unprecedented cold winter storm and grids failed, causing a major rolling power outtage in the state.
The Positive Side of Disaster
Baaghi TV has also discovered how the disaster has brought out the capacity for serving humanity that is present in the local communities. A reputed Pakistani Chef Saadat Siddiqui, who lives in the area, used whatever capacity he had in order to cook and distribute food to affected families.
There have been heartwarming accounts from amongst the business community as well, Baaghi TV reports. A grocery store of the chain H-E-B experienced power failure when people were in line for payment and it gave free groceries to hundreds of people waiting in line who had yet to make their payment. Other grocery businesses were reported to have offered 50% discounts.
Response of the Government
Residents are disappointed with the federal government’s response so far. Senator Ted Cruz has already invited censure by his flight to Mexico when the storm had started. Administration of counties is handled by judges. Texas has a lot of Republican Senators and Judges, whom the residents have complained about due to the power breakdown.
Baaghi TV also reports that the Pakistani community is also not satisfied with the Pakistani consulate in Houston. In dealing with the Texas storm, the Pakistani community hoped to see more cooperation. They say that neither did the Pakistani consulate offer help and support, nor did the Pakistani government make any statement to remind its subjects in Texas that it stands with them in their hour of difficulty. There is a very strong support for Prime Minister Imran Khan amongst the Pakistani community in Texas.
Overseas Pakistanis have always been known for their patriotism and their constant support to the economy of Pakistan. Baaghi TV presents this special report to ensure that they too are remembered by their country in their hour of trial.
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