outage

U.S. Air Force Photo Illustration by Senior Airman Stephen G. Eigel

If you were one of the 350,000 North Texans sitting in the dark (or paying for a hotel room)during last week’s power outage, you might have missed one little tidbit of information that should make the real estate-minded perk up their ears.

There are places you can live where your power is more likely to come back sooner. Now, nobody outright said, “Move to these neighborhoods and you’ll have your power back on before your popsicles start melting,” but if you’re astute, you can read between the lines.

Oncor (and pretty much every other electricity provider in the country) has triaged where power is restored based on how critical the structures in an area are to the public.

First comes the transmission line outages, because they deliver power to entire neighborhoods and businesses. Because so many can be without power if a line goes down, those are a top priority.

But here’s the bigger takeaway: there are certain structures that, if in your neighborhood, are always going to get power restored pretty quickly, too. (more…)

Spoiler (see what we did there?) alert: If this is what you see on your fridge when your power returns, there’s no coming back from it (Photo courtesy Tom Erickson).

If you’re like 350,000 other Oncor customers, you are likely finally reading this at home, on your couch, with a light on powered by — finally — electricity.

But can we engage in some real talk? Because you’re probably wondering about everything in your fridge. I know I was. I mean, I had just put the groceries away, practically, when the power went out Sunday.

We didn’t get the lights back on until late Tuesday night. And I wondered — my fridge and freezer stayed closed pretty much the entire time. Do I have to throw everything away? Did it act as a cooler?

Ehhhh, no. No, it didn’t. As you can see in the photo above, those were the temps on our fridge and freezer about 10 minutes after the power came on. But to be sure, I asked some experts. (more…)

Macy Chiasson is tough. You have to be to be a UFC fighter, especially a The Ultimate Fighter winner. Her lawyer, Jason Friedman, said that toughness is what led her to file the first suit related to the deadly crane collapse Sunday at the Elan City Lights apartment building.

After all, some might question why Chaisson — whose only physical injury was a cut foot that will keep her out of the ring for a brief duration while it heals — would file suit at all. Friedman said she lost quite a bit — but she also wanted to make sure those fellow tenants who might file suit next had the benefit of locking down key evidence — which will happen as part of her suit.

“She’s a tough woman, but some people don’t know what to do,” Friedman said. “She feels like she needs to lead by example, and that they (the crane operator and Elan parent company Greystar, who are named in the suit) need to be held accountable.”

Chaisson lost everything in the aftermath, her hard-won TUF trophy, UFC memorabilia, her gear, a camera that survived Hurricane Katrina, and her grandfather’s World War II memorabilia.

She also lost her car, even her driver’s license and other basic necessities. She got out with the clothes on her back, Friedman said, and her dog. (more…)

flood

Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston on August 27, 2017, to aid residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. (Texas Army National Guard photo)

As the devastation Hurricane Harvey wrought two weeks ago becomes devastatingly clearer and flood waters slowly recede, many have asked: What would a similar flood look like in my neighborhood?  

And could something like this happen in Dallas? (more…)

If you forgot Dallas’ torrential weekend rains, Monday’s return certainly brought those memories … flooding back.

What’s up with that?  It’s not like rain is something new to Dallas.  Sure, depending on whether your beliefs are fact- or fiction-based, climate change may be making rains heavier, but we’ve always had deluge-type rain (when we’re not in drought).

So why does this city flood like it’s never seen a drop of water? Why do we have to repeat, “turn around, don’t drown” and mean it when the water is coming up to the running board of the SUV? There are many reasons, some just mother nature, some brought on by neglect and — shocker — our city’s indifference to infrastructure.

(more…)

Where Flushable Wipes Wind Up. Source: NYC Environmental Protection

Where Flushable Wipes Wind Up. Source: NYC Environmental Protection

Remember when the world was young and all you needed to do your business was a porcelain throne and a handy roll of paper of varying softness and quilty-ness?  Now we have $10,000+ toilets that treat our posterior as though every BM is a spa treatment.  For those who want to pay for their $10,000 toilet in installments, there are flushable wipes … the Swiffer Sweeper of the derrière that is costing cities and private homeowners millions a year in damage resulting from clogs.  (Swiffer being another completely unnecessary product that proved people can be bamboozled by advertising.)

Both Swiffer and the disposable wipe were born out of marketers’ minds to increase sales of paper based products and used modern society’s germaphobia to do it.  Take note: According to the Centers for Disease Control, “soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes” and yet we’ve gone hand sanitizer crazy.  Why?  Because soap is cheap and it costs more to place hand sanitizers every five feet … and we fell for it.

Swiffer replaced the very serviceable, very reusable mop with images of filthy mops in dank closets waiting to ignite the plague … and we fell for it.  Flushable wipes on the other hand don’t seek to replace toilet paper … the makers are in the paper business … they want you to use both! Literally paper-wipe-paper your bum each time.  Triple play for the maker. And we’ve fallen for it to the tune of $6 billion according to a 2014 New York Post article.

(more…)

Lindsey Diaz was planning to come back to her tornado-damaged home in Rowlett, but that's not possible after a company mistakenly demolished it (Photo: David Goins/WFAA)

Lindsey Diaz was planning to come back to her tornado-damaged home in Rowlett, but that’s not possible after a company mistakenly demolished it (Photo: David Goins/WFAA)

It’s one thing to tear down the wrong home, but it’s another to leave the victim of your mistake high and dry. That’s what is happening to Lindsey Diaz, a homeowner in Rowlett whose property was damaged in the recent tornado. But she was planning to come back to her duplex, not demolish it, according to the report from WFAA Channel 8’s David Goins:
(more…)

We were not prepared. Were you?

We were not prepared. Were you?

I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve covered at least a dozen tornadoes in my career, and yet, as
my family and I huddled in the small hallway in the center of our home Saturday night fearfully watching the weather on my iPad, I realized how woefully unprepared we were for a disaster.

I mean, sure, we had the basics down. Shelter. I had my wallet with insurance information, ID, credit cards, etc. We had something to monitor the weather with (our phones and iPad). But sitting on the couch later, anxiously watching the news with my heart in my throat, I realized how many things we missed. The dog was not on a leash. The bike helmets were MIA. The medication I take daily was sitting on the counter in the bathroom. We weren’t even wearing shoes. True, part of that was due to the fact that I could tell only the outer edges of the cell were touching our neighborhood, but later I found that others who thought the same thing were now cleaning up their homes after a tornado hit (in Sunnyvale) just a couple hundred feet from their neighborhood.

What in the hell was I thinking?

So this morning, I decided to talk to an expert, do some research, and make sure my family – and yours – is prepared for the worst. (more…)