Read the full story at Slate.
Last week, our producer Davis Land headed out from his neighborhood in Houston to talk with people trying to restore their homes after a devastating winter storm knocked out power for so many Texans. It was nearly 80 degrees—a huge change from a couple of weeks back, when many Texans were shivering under coats and blankets, waiting out a deep freeze and a utility shutdown. But after the cold let up, what was left behind was a mess of plumbing—burst pipes and sagging walls full of leaking water. There simply aren’t enough hands to do the work.
Land spoke with one woman, Shonza Branch, who still didn’t have running water to shower or do laundry. Her burst pipes were just the latest problem for her home, which is still damaged from Hurricane Harvey, nearly four years ago. “We had wind and rain damage and we went to FEMA, and FEMA only gave us so much. And I appealed till they told me I couldn’t appeal no more,” Branch said. “So the wall in my bathroom, I have a piece of tape over the light switch because when we cut it on, it would shoot electricity. And then the water ran down that wall, and there’s mold in the wall—it’s still in there. My towel racks and stuff fell off the wall because the wall was so soft and rotted.”
For someone like Branch, February’s cold snap has become another layer of damage, another natural disaster blocking her way back to some kind of normalcy. On Monday’s episode of What Next, I spoke with Amal Ahmad from the Texas Observer about what the slow slog of recovery is beginning to look like in Texas, where many of those most affected by last month’s weather are still getting back on their feet after the last climate disaster. Our conversation has been edited and condense for clarity.