What Austin, Texas, Demonstrates About Prepping

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

I have a family member who lives in Austin, Texas.  This is a video he sent me (he didn’t take it, but is near where this video was taken).  This video is a couple of days old.  This line was about a mile long as guessed by the videographer.  There are no more lines like that because the grocery stores are out of food.

The trucks haven’t been able to run, so the shelves are bare.  Worse, the water system is torn apart by freezing temperatures, and water is off to most of the city.  There is no potable water, there is no more food.  There is now a run on gasoline, and the stations are quickly running out their tanks.

Power is off throughout vast portions of Austin and in fact throughout much of Texas.  It would be easy to write an essay about the power situation, but denials that the rush to natural gas and windmills is at least partially responsible are wrong.

The windmills are frozen, and the CTs (Combustion Turbines) sit above ground.  They are frozen solid and cannot operate.  Solar panels are covered with snow and ice, and besides, wouldn’t be capable of supplying the industrial base with enough power even if they could operate.

While there is a lot of research in next generation nuclear (like Molten Salt reactors) occurring at ORNL and ANL, and that’s nice, it wouldn’t have been necessary to wait on that.  PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) and BWR (Boiling Water Reactor) technology is mature and safe.

The problem is that no CEO wants to invest money in nuclear power because the tax incentives are so significant for solar panels.  But the only source of cheap, clean, mature energy that can supply an industrial base with power is nuclear.  Unless, of course, they intend to move the industrial base to China (which is in fact investing huge sums of money in nuclear) and then beg for scraps that fall from the master’s table.

My family member is safe and sound with copious supplies for everything, and I told him that the only people who would have been prepared for something like this is preppers.  He responded that people do in fact listen to the government and that had a warning come out in time to concern yourself with potable water, run water into bathtubs, get freeze dried foods, visit the grocery stores, get batteries, get medical kits, stock up on ammunition, get charcoal and be prepared to grill, have enough water to flush toilets, and so on and so forth, the people would have responded.

I told him that he had misunderstood what I said.  I meant that the only people who worry about preparations like this without being told to by the government is preppers, and that he was prepared because we talked about this sort of thing before.

He agreed.  Most of America is 24-48 hours from starvation and dehydration.  If the water system and/or electric grid goes down, people must be prepared for that.  Preparation isn’t just for the Northwestern redoubt, with all due respect to the folks at the Survival Blog.  In fact, it may be more difficult in an urban area like Austin than it would be in Idaho, weather notwithstanding.


  1. On February 17, 2021 at 11:32 pm, Peter Bland said:

    In Soviet Austin, road ice you!

    Seriously, this looks like a bread line in Russia.

  2. On February 17, 2021 at 11:48 pm, 41mag said:

    And Exelon plays the tax game very well. They love to pour on the illegal political bribes for tax incentives that shouldn’t be necessary.

    What works is forbidden.

    What fails pushes the agenda forward.

  3. On February 18, 2021 at 12:50 am, Neptune said:

    Independent here, stumbled across this. My dad is a nuclear chemist, or was I should say. He once worked for the Byron nuclear plant that currently powers Chicago and much of northern IL. What is frustrating is they’re likely even getting rid of the plant for less reliable energy sources imo that will also contribute to greenhouse emissions total. And it’s not really as if it would be adding jobs, cause the total.jobs would be a net loss once the plant closes. And it’s for marginally cheaper energy prices…

    I lived in Los Angeles for a while, and one thing that is preached there is to have 2-3 weeks of food and several gallons of water accessible for earthquakes. I don’t get why people in tornado alley wouldn’t try to do the same thing. I surely still have a good food surplus just in case of a natural disaster. Esp after there was no electric for a week back in July of 04 or 05 I think? It was bad, you’d think people would recall millions of people being without electric 15, 5, even last year in Cali from the fires and rain… and try to make preperation just in case.

    (Also being poor wouldn’t be a good reason, I’m very poor, lol, but I have been able to save up cans.)

  4. On February 18, 2021 at 12:52 am, Herschel Smith said:


    One possible reason. The state has trained them to be that way with SNAP payments, intended to destroy the inner city and the nuclear family, but with nice words attached to make everything okay.

    And I have a background in nuclear. The replacement power is only “marginally cheaper” because of tax incentives.

    In the end, there is nothing cheaper about it. The taxpayer is left on the hook. So far s/he doesn’t seem to mind, at least, not enough to stop it.

  5. On February 18, 2021 at 1:00 am, PrepperSoft said:

    Just wait til the EMP when everyone’s power goes out. Interesting that other states & FEMA don’t seem to be helping very much.

    I don’t understand what it will take for people to start prepping. Start with Katrina, go through hurricanes, Sandy in NYC, now CoVid, and still people aren’t prepared…

  6. On February 18, 2021 at 1:41 am, John in Indy said:

    Other regions are not able to provide much electricity as the three regions, Eastern, Western, and Texas each provide electricity out to their borders without much crossover capacity.
    Natural gas is usually pumped out from Texas and Louisiana, but with the electric grid down, there may not be power for the pumps, and the article mentions that the natural gas turbine generating plants have frozen solid.
    Few people are willing to see potential problems far enough in advance yo be able to perpare to survive them. That sucks for them, and probably for those better prepared near them.
    Keeping cities like Austim from coming apart over the next week may be a challenge, and the problems, actions, and solutions tried or found will be worth noting, to prepare for other types of crisises.

  7. On February 18, 2021 at 2:15 am, Henry said:

    “had a warning come out in time to concern yourself with potable water, run water into bathtubs, get freeze dried foods, visit the grocery stores…”

    Then the lines would have been five times as long, there would have been riots, and the stores still would have run out.

    If I had some ham, I could have a ham and cheese sandwich, if I had some cheese.

  8. On February 18, 2021 at 2:51 am, Duke Norfolk said:

    Yep, Henry, the “in time” for everybody to have done that would be many years ago. And it’s a total fantasy for anybody to think that govt in this country (other than some small, local exceptions), in this day and age, would do that.

    That person has a lot of learnin’ to come about what our world really is now.

  9. On February 18, 2021 at 5:14 am, Nosmo said:

    And, frightening thought that it is, this is only the beginning.

  10. On February 18, 2021 at 5:32 am, Precision270 said:

    2 x 55 gallon water drums, with hand crank pump, never less than 5 case of bottled water
    2 freezers full of meat and other perishable sundries and bottled water to fill to freeze capacity and reduce thaw effect when power is out
    2 generators because one is none
    not less than 10 gallons of fuel for generators (usually 20)
    shelf stable food for 4 people for at least a year
    Toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, soap for at least 6 months
    and no less than 1000 rounds per caliber stocked
    Our biggest problem is no group of four can withstand a siege, but hopefully no siege.

  11. On February 18, 2021 at 7:57 am, Mike Perry said:

    One of the most scary scenarios is an EMP or major solar flare. Even for a hurricane or large earthquake the damage only extends over a few hundred miles and for a week or two. Taking out—rather than just freezing—our electrical grid could impact the entire country and take a year or longer to fix. Here’s a good resource for preparing for that.


  12. On February 18, 2021 at 8:02 am, Edward Brault said:

    We lived along the Northern Tier (Minot, ND, Plattsburgh, NY, Northern VT) for 40 years. We always kept a supply of food, water, Rx meds, CAT FOOD (Canned tuna and salmon will feed you and the cats), and gas for the generator. Water storage is easy, even if you just fill the bathtub and cover it with a shower curtain. Or fill every pot, pan, pitcher and bucket you can find.We really took the experience of 27 days without power during an ice storm to heart. Still do after moving to South Carolina. We’ve had to ride out at least ones major storm each year, and have lost power for up to 36 hours. Common sense, folks. That’s all it takes

  13. On February 18, 2021 at 8:24 am, ExpatNJ said:

    Electric is off – or into rolling blackouts – in Texas for reasons in addition to what Capt said:

    – Utilities did not want to pay increased Spot Price for Natural Gas (thank Xiden)
    – Downed lines due to the weather (thank HAARP ?)
    – Supplemental electric heater use, especially home Heat Pumps (poor Prepping)

    BTW, Indian Point (north of NYC on Hudson River) last working nuclear reactor is shutting down in spring 2021

  14. On February 18, 2021 at 8:40 am, June J said:

    I live in Arlington TX area. Yesterday morning city water department was chiding and blaming people for “excessive water usage” by filling up containers and bathtubs due to “rumors on social media” about imminent water problems.
    Two hours later several water mains broke, resulting in either no water or very low pressure. Followed by a boil order for tap water.
    In addition to my numerous 5-7 gallon water cans I had been filling other containers with water just in case. We’ve been blessed so far, no power outages and enough water pressure to take a quick shower. No concerns about food due to my fully stocked pantry and my emergency food supplies.
    I know people who live outside Austin, it’s a mess in their neighborhood- no water, power off more than own, icy roads.

    The excuses I’ve heard from Texas officials and the entity responsible for electricity here makes me want to puke. Failure to winterize equipment properly was considered unnecessary expense because we only get these kinds of winter storms every few decades. So Texans have died, businesses shuttered once again and citizens lives negatively impacted because of government folly and private greed.

  15. On February 18, 2021 at 9:57 am, Chris Mallory said:

    A bedside toilet, a 5 gallon bucket and some plastic trash bags are better than flushing your water down the toilet. Men can go out in the backyard to urinate. The bedside toilet can be optional, but I am old and squatting on a bucket doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

  16. On February 18, 2021 at 10:16 am, George 1 said:

    June J. What is a good organization to donate to? Where is the best place to send donations?

  17. On February 18, 2021 at 10:29 am, DM said:

    It doesn’t matter if the masses would listen to the government and stock up, given a week’s notice, because stores cannot support any sort of a spike in buying without supplies running out. They simply do not keep hardly anything in their stockrooms any more, so when the spike comes, the shelves are bare within hours. The first 100 families in line mostly get what they want, the next 100 get some of what they want, and the rest get the dregs, if anything.

    The only way to do this is to keep 2-4 weeks worth of items on YOUR shelves AT ALL TIMES, and rotate to keep it fresh. Certain items can be held much longer (paper products, for instance), and others much shorter periods (you can’t stock-up on fresh green produce).

  18. On February 18, 2021 at 10:49 am, Fred said:

    Small Modular Reactors. ORNL and Commercial Insterests have been trying to get these approved and rolled out, but (the rest of) FedGov is reluctant.

    Think, nuclear power plant for aircraft carriers that can be installed underground, and chained together locally depending on the size of the power requirement addiing more as growth requires. This creates many small, but interconneted power grids. This is especially useful in small cities and areas like that. Austin is too big for these to power the whole city practically, but all the sorounding burbs could each have their own or the several as required.

    They are also much simpler to operate than the big guys and have automatic shutdowns that are already proven. The closed area needed for these to safely operate is acres in size not reservation size safety zones.

    The time of the SMR is here, but alas, your government loves you too much to allow that.

  19. On February 18, 2021 at 11:03 am, John said:

    And don’t forget that extremely wet weather destroyed much of last years corn crop while
    this polar cold sweep is thought to have damaged or destroyed 45% of our winter wheat in
    the ground.
    We are seeing a very probable Grand Solar Minimum. If you wonder what that means look up
    the Dalton Minimum with its “year without a summer” and the worst one; the Maunder Minimum.

  20. On February 18, 2021 at 11:29 am, Teresa Pittman said:

    This is ridiculous, claiming that people need the government to tell them to prepare for bad weather. If squirrels and ants know to store food, why would people need to hear that?

  21. On February 18, 2021 at 11:43 am, Arkay said:

    Folks who fail to pay attention to weather forecasts are usually the ones in front of the TV cameras, whining about the situation. Had they done the most basic of preparations, they’d have been uncomfortable, but not endangered.

    The true issue was failure to winterize systems. Yes, this series of storms (the fourth one is dropping snow as I type) hasn’t occurred in this part of Texas since 1951, but that is no excuse for water companies not having backup power and insulation on the well heads. We still have winter around here when the temps are below freezing.

    One of the nuclear plants near Dallas shut down because a safety sensor froze and stopped talking to the system. System was safe, but because the sensor went silent, it shut down. Hopefully, the nuc plants will take that lesson and do a better job of insulating the safety sensors.

    We were without power for a while, still without water. Even without power, we have a house so heavily insulated to keep out the Texas heat that it held the fireplace heat inside nicely. We never dropped below 57. We’re shoveling snow into the bathtub for flushing water, and keeping all the other water containers for drinking. Bathing will just have to wait until it warms up again.

    A friend living in Arizona asked just what could apartment dwellers have done to prepare, because this was “soooo unprecedented.” I gave her this list:

    When the weather forecast is for a serious storm, they can do exactly what we did back when we lived in apartments: fill up the bathtub with water. Fill up all available containers with water, both for drinking and flushing. Do this BEFORE the storm hits, in case the water stops flowing.
    Pull out stocks of candles, make sure the flashlight battery stash is current, unpack heavy clothes, get out extra blankets.
    Dress in layers. If one doesn’t have gloves, tee shirts and scarves make reasonable substitutes.
    Make sure there’s at least a week’s worth of foods we won’t need to cook, ensure the pet supplies are adequate. We had a balcony, so refrigerated foods could sit out there in the cold — those without balconies should keep the fridge closed as much as possible. We had a stash of paper plates, etc., so we weren’t using many dishes that need washing.
    Ignore diets: you’ll need extra fat and carbs to generate internal heat.
    We threw all the bedclothes onto the bed, sandwiching the dirty clothes in between. It was heavy, yes, but it was very warm.
    If it’s just pee, put the toilet lid down and walk away. If more, flush, then refill the tank (not the bowl) with the bathtub water.
    Move around the apartment to generate body heat, then cuddle up with apartment mates and/or pets, if one has them. If living alone, check on neighbors and offer to share/help each other keep warm.
    These steps kept us just fine and required only a little pre-preparation. We also always had at least two weeks of food in the pantry, so we didn’t have to join the hoards making the Donner Party Panic food runs.
    Keep in mind that apartment dwellers in Houston are accustomed to hurricanes and other weather events that impact electricity and water far more often than winter storms, so some of the preps should be part and parcel to living there, if they decide to sit tight and not evacuate (and yes, there are a fair number who do stay through hurricanes).
    The key is to always, always pay attention to the local weather forecasts, then act accordingly.

    And keep in mind that we will be wearing tee shirts and sandals by next Wednesday.

  22. On February 18, 2021 at 12:13 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    “Heat Tracing.” Many nuclear plants have it to prevent freeze-ups of critical instrumentation.

    They learned a hard lesson. I’m sure the shutdown was because Technical Specifications required it, not because they randomly chose to shut down.

  23. On February 18, 2021 at 12:18 pm, Levi Garrett said:

    @ John in Indy,

    Toward the end of your post, I saw that you misspelled Austin as “Austim”. My mind jumbled the letters, and I saw that as “Autism”. You know, that’s not an entirely inaccurate name for that city! No offense meant to actual autists.

  24. On February 18, 2021 at 1:41 pm, Don Curton said:

    Just a thought – people are morons. I would bet that everyone standing in line probably had another 3 to 4 days worth of food at home. This was panic buying. Happens every storm, every hurricane. Same with the gas stations. Every station within several miles was either out of gas or down without power yesterday. People were driving in circles trying to fill up. Every station had a line out into the street of people trying to turn in, even when you could clearly see the station had no power. My own son told me he burned up half a tank trying to top his truck off. Really? With half a tank you could drive damn near 200 miles, and you burned it up for nothing. Simple panic because everyone else was. My wife is constantly says we’re out of food. The pantry (a BIG walk in pantry) is completely full. She’s out of one thing she wants now, so of course we’re out of food period. We could eat for two to three weeks on what we have, although I’ll admit the last several meals wouldn’t be that great. But she sees a line and we better stand in it, just in case. Drives me to drinking.

    Everyone I know has a big freezer full of wild game, gas and charcoal grills, smokers, camp stoves, etc. After a hurricane, the neighborhood smells like the biggest BBQ cook-off ever. The only thing we worry about is beer. Prepping is more fun that way.

  25. On February 18, 2021 at 4:59 pm, bryce said:

    Is it wrong to pray for 3 more weeks of this weather in Austin?

  26. On February 18, 2021 at 7:32 pm, El Grande Banana Republic said:

    Remember Fundamental Transformation? Here it is.
    The fifth column known as the best government that money can buy is almost done with the looting and they will leave the proles in eat or get ate law of the jungle mode as they jet off with bars of gold and buckets of cash to the next honey hole.
    At least we won’t have the bad orange tweets or any border boundaries and our external enemies will never exploit a wide open border because they feel the unity.
    The groper issued another EO stating that anyone here before November 2020 can stay even if they have any physical ailments, diseases, mental illness, or criminal records and that includes felonies.
    Look for department of government alphabet soup agency and municipal vehicles with machine gun mounts and generalissimo outfits as we go full banana republic.

  27. On February 18, 2021 at 8:33 pm, Ron said:

    I haven’t been following the news but I don’t understand why a combustion turbine would freeze up.
    All the electricity for the North slope of Alaska, comes from internal combustion turbines running on natural gas. There were seven of them at prudhoe Bay, GE turbines running on natural gas right out of the ground and cleaned up.
    Seems to me it’s just lack of preparation like everything else.
    The small modular reactors the little package jobs aren’t available, but we are building two brand new AP1000s in GA.
    There will be 4.2 GW coming out of the Vogtle site when we’re finished because in addition to the 2 GB we’re building, there were two existing pwrs on site since the mid 80s.
    Anybody who does not prepare to take care of their families is failing in their duties as a husband and a man.
    That means storing food water and any other supplies that you might need to get through an emergency.

  28. On February 18, 2021 at 9:25 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    There are fluid flow systems for CTs just like any other power producer. I’m sure the CTs to which you refer have heat tracing to prevent that.

  29. On February 19, 2021 at 1:29 am, BRVTVS said:

    You’re absolutely correct about China investing in nuclear energy. I took a train ride in China a few years ago and the frequency with which I saw nuclear power plants was staggering to me.

  30. On February 20, 2021 at 4:25 am, Hudson H Luce said:

    Most people forget about the 30 to 40 gallons of water they have in their water heater… As for flushing toilets, don’t. Use a gallon size water bottle – ladies can put a funnel in top. Also makes for less freezing cold trips to the toilet. As for solid waste, it’s 5 gallon bucket time. If you’re inclined, take a cheap chair and cut a hole in the bottom, put the bucket underneath, just make sure you can put the lid on. MRE heaters warm up a sleeping bag quite well, btw. I managed to get along just fine in my house in Kansas City after an ice storm turned the power off for ten days…

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This article is filed under the category(s) Survival and was published February 17th, 2021 by Herschel Smith.

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