By Verlie McAlister Edwards & Leanne Kinsey Ivey
Editor’s Note: These are the combined observations of Verlie Edwards and Leanne Ivey.
Thurs, Feb 11 – High 28/Low 23
Leanne: The weather predicted freezing temperatures and snow for the weekend. I dashed out to the neighborhood Braum’s to buy milk and bread. I thought I would have plenty of food through the weekend. I live by myself … so how much did I really need? I sat glued to the TV all day! The ice had started to form on some overpasses and there was a 130-vehicle pileup on I-35 in north Fort Worth.
Sun, Feb 14 – High 21/Low 7
Leanne: It is Valentine’s Day and we had an absolutely beautiful snow fall with the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen. It was the first in many years. Out my family room wall of windows, it felt like I was in a snow globe. Verlie and I texted photos to each other of our yards filling up with snow. We decided to keep a photo document of the amount of snow and how it was filling up our yard. It was too cold for me to go out and play in, but fun to watch! I put a pot of chili on the stove and enjoyed my day of reading and watching the snow. Verlie and I talked several times during the day and exchanged photos. We were both like kids watching out the window as the snow kept falling!
Leanne: At 10:00 pm I took a hot shower, put my flannel pajamas on, plugged in my electric blanket and settled in for a good night’s sleep. Sometime just before midnight I lost power – but only for about 30 minutes. As soon as the power was back on my smoke alarms and my ADT alarm system started blaring. I was able to trip the alarm system, but not the smoke alarms. At 1:15 am I had a Benbrook policeman and three Benbrook firemen at my door. Thankfully, no fire! But the power surge had fried one of my smoke alarms. It was “talking” to all the other ones so all five kept going off! For liability reasons, the firemen could not disengage the one we thought was bad. So, every 20 minutes until 11:00 am the next morning my alarms all went off and I had to climb on a ladder to reset it. It was a LONG night of NO sleep.
Verlie: The weather reports kept saying this was going to be a bad storm with possible sub-zero temperatures. I never thought the entire state of Texas would be under a severe winter warning or that it would impact everyone like it did.
Mon, Feb 15 – High 12/Low 7
Verlie: I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to find I did not have any power and my house was getting cold. I added a blanket to my bed and went back to sleep never thinking the power would not return soon.
After awakening later that morning the power still wasn’t on. I was concerned, but thought everything would be OK because I had recently converted my fireplace to gas and it would keep the den warm. I also covered my den windows which do not have blinds or curtains with anything I could find. Flannel sheets and blankets were thumb tacked to the wall. The fireplace roared all day and I ate food that didn’t need to be cooked.
Leanne: My son, Jeff, called to say his power had gone out and asked if he could come stay with me. He took his children to their mother’s house and he and his black Lab, Maggie, got to my house at 11:00 am. Jeff was able to reach and disengage the smoke alarm and my thought was finally, some peace! We had a fun day of watching movies and eating left over chili.
I kept in touch with Verlie all day and she was without power too. We tried to get her to come join us, but she wanted to stay to see how things would go at her house. In the afternoon she got power, so we were all thinking it would be a calm night.
Verlie: Excitement overtook me mid-afternoon when the power returned! That was short lived. Three hours later power went off again and stayed off. It started getting really cold in my house!
Even though I was under 5-6 layers of blankets and three layers of clothes, that night was miserable. I was so cold I was afraid to go to sleep. I began having panic attacks and prayed all night for strength. My only thought was of staying safe!
Tues, Feb 16 – High 18/Low 1
Verlie: As soon as the sun was up, I texted Leanne to see if she still had power and tell her I was going to find a way to get to her house. Otherwise, I was going to a community shelter. I was not staying in my house! Next, I had to figure out how to get to Leanne’s because the garage door opener would not work without power and I couldn’t manually disengage it. I called a limo service and they were able to pick me up and take me to Leanne’s. Finally, I felt safe.
Leanne: After Verlie arrived we established “Camp Ivey.” My house is small. But we all made do. My heater wasn’t functioning very well, but at least we had power and water and we managed.
Wed, Feb 17 – High 25/Low 18
Leanne: We all just sat and watched TV. Trying to find any news of when this storm would leave and why our power grid was failing. All of us had family and friends without power around the state. We were very grateful that we had power, even if we had to wrap up in blankets to stay warm. My house didn’t want to get warmer than 56, but at least we had SOME heat!
Jeff and Maggie went home late in the afternoon. Power had been restored to his house.
The food that I thought I had plenty of (to last through the weekend for just me) started to run out. I called a friend who owns White Stone Meat Market in Weatherford and he brought us steaks, hamburger meat, chicken, bread, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and an avocado! Such nice guys – they even called before they came to see if we needed anything else from town. What a huge blessing.
Verlie: Through communication with neighbors, I learned the power had returned, but we did not have water. I continued my stay at Camp Ivey.
Thurs, Feb 18 – High 28/Low 19
Leanne: It’s funny how we completely lost any concept of what day it was. We got up every morning this week and got dressed, had breakfast, and watched TV… all day long! We did nothing productive except cook and eat. And talk! I realized today that I was so thankful to have someone to talk to and not be alone. I received a “Boil Water” advisory for Benbrook. But still, we were so thankful that we had power.
Fri, Feb 19 – High 39/Low 16
Leanne: We ventured out to check on Verlie’s house. She had power! It was warm in her house. Actually, it was warmer than it was at my house. I helped her clean out her refrigerator and freezer and then we came back to my house for the night. She still didn’t have water at that point.
Verlie: It was great to check on my house, even if I would not stay there until the next day. When we left, my fridge and freezer were EMPTY! After reading an article from the Food and Drug Administration that recommended tossing food if power had been off for four or more hours, everything went in the garbage.
Sat, Feb 20 – High 55/Low 25
Leanne: Finally, we can see the end! All of our friends and family reported they had power restored. A few were still without water and those that did have running water still had to boil. Verlie got packed up and I took her home. We managed to find gas and filled up my car. We went by the market and Verlie picked up a few groceries to last her until she could get to the store.
Sun, Feb 21 – High 72/Low 46
Leanne: As I am writing this, I am sitting outside in the sunshine! Can you believe we went from 1 degree on Tuesday to 72 today? I am grateful that I never lost power or water. I know I am one of the few and I don’t take that for granted! I am grateful for my son, Jeff, who came when I was feeling desperate and had not slept. Grateful that he could fix my alarm problem. I am grateful for Verlie and our friendship. I am glad I had a place of shelter for her to come to and be warm. We are travel buddies and we have been to some great places together. We shared this experience together as best friends and I know she would have done the same for me if it had been my house without power. It wasn’t nearly as much fun as trips we have taken in the past… but we have good memories to share and we WILL be planning a FUN vacation soon.
Verlie: The storm has passed. I’m back home and trying to return everything to its rightful place – blankets off the windows and bed, cleaning the fridge and freezer before replenishing, etc., etc.
The week of Storm Uri seems like a dream – a VERY BAD DREAM. I was very blessed to have had Leanne’s home as a safe retreat. I will never take her friendship for granted. It’s hard to believe what happened and the weather forecast for the next week is for 70-plus degrees. I do have to remember, it is Texas. If you don’t like the weather, wait a bit, it will change.
As we look back on our experiences, we realize how fortunate we were. Thousands of Texans did not have power and had to find ways to stay warm. Many did not have water and if they did, they were under a boil order. We witnessed true Texas Spirit. Businesses gave away food. Others gave away water. Local governments and neighbors opened their doors for shelter. Some made deliveries to those in need and still others drove essential caregivers to work. #TexanshelpingTexans #ButterfliesHelpingButterflies
A native Texan, Leanne Ivey was born in Kilgore and grew up in Euless. She now resides in Benbrook. Leanne is the proud mother of two sons, Scott and Jeff, and a wonderful daughter-in-law, Aubrey. Her pride and joy are her three grandchildren, Ella, and twins Nathan and Noah. Leanne is the Director of Campaign Operations for Congressman Roger Williams. She has worked for him and his wife, Patty, for 27 years.
Verlie McAlister Edwards was raised in Abilene, Texas and it’s there that she realized her love for writing. She enjoyed a special high school English teacher who happened to be the school’s newspaper sponsor. In order to take another class under her, Verlie signed up for journalism and the journey began. Unlike many students, she never changed her college major – she was always focused on journalism as a career. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a degree in journalism and political science.
After graduation she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News covering the local education scene from the students’ perspective. Following a year of graduate work at UNT she moved to Fort Worth where a career in public relations and political affairs flourished. She always wanted to work in academic PR and achieved that goal early in her career at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After many years providing public relations consultation to the osteopathic profession and serving as the communications director/special events fundraiser for Lena Pope Home (a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected youth) she joined the staff of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors (GFWAR) as the communications and governmental affairs director. It’s here that she found her calling and further developed her skills in the political arena.
After 11 years in that position she took her writing, political and organizational skills to serve as chief of staff for Texas State Representative Rob Orr, a past president of the GFWAR. She remained on Rep. Orr’s staff throughout his 10 years as an elected official and then served as District Director for his successor, Representative DeWayne Burns, during his first legislative session. At that time she retired from the Texas Legislature and began working part-time as curator for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams’ personal museum.
Verlie is excited to use her writing skills to help the Iron Butterflies Project as both a writer/co-creator and Editor-In-Chief.