The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

Mental health awareness should be prioritized in all schools
Mental health awareness should be prioritized in all schools
Sally Martinez, J1 Reporter • April 22, 2024

Mental health takes a toll on students all over the world. It disrupts how they learn and retain that information. So, why is it not a big deal when schools see an increase in lower grades and moody students?...

Dull to colorful with new murals
Ryan Zuniga, Dispatch Reporter • April 19, 2024

Along the heavily populated hallway is the second mural within the fine arts wing. Over spring break a local graffiti group, Color Cartel, led and established by artist Andrew Horner, created the...

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Faulty electric grid fails Texans time after time

In today’s episode both Noah Bihan/Ellinger talk about the freeze that hit Austin, what happened to all the Christmas blockbusters, and the top songs of the year for 2023!
WINTER+WASTELAND%3A+In+the+early+days+of+February+2021%2C+snow+covered+the+streets+of+Austin.+It+was+the+most+snow+the+city+has+received+in+years.
Gabby Bochey
WINTER WASTELAND: In the early days of February 2021, snow covered the streets of Austin. It was the most snow the city has received in years.

It is predicted that another freeze and a possible “snowpocalypse” will burden Texans again this winter. This is likely caused by the unstable power grid and may result in another power loss as in 2021.

On February 15, 2021, Texas encountered its first of many electrical grid complications that would begin to affect the public. The loss of power resulted in a lack of water and electricity for multiple days. It is anticipated that Texans will experience similar hardships once again this winter.

“I lost power on the day it started snowing, and I woke up when my house was freezing, but it was so gorgeous outside,” history teacher Alejandro Garcia said. “I have never seen snow like that in my entire life in the city of Austin and it was almost like one of those childish dreams come true. When the power didn’t come back on, it was a big wake-up call, realizing this might be a problem because it’s super, super cold.”

During the 2021 winter freeze, the Bowie pipes, which cover the entire campus, burst and flooded due to the pipes being unconditioned to cold weather for long periods of time.

“Every pipe in every restroom here at school burst and all the urinals as well in every boy’s restroom cracked,” Garcia said. “The pipes underneath the old gym, which is now the current band hall, burst and flooded the entire gym floor, ruining it in the process. Pipes burst in the theater, which flooded the theater under a couple of feet of water and once again ruined the space.”

This winter, students are concerned about missing school due to a freeze, similar to in 2021. Students’ online school experiences suffered from the 2021 winter storm because of the loss of power, which made logging into class through Zoom challenging.

“My online school just disappeared. I really couldn’t have one, I had no power so it was impossible to make attending online class work” sophomore Reed Watts said. “Teachers ended up canceling classes anyway because so many of us lost power.”

According to Reuters, an additional two-thirds of America may be joining in on Texas’ power outages this upcoming winter. This is due to the lack of natural gas provided to serve large areas of the country. Texas has few experiences with cold weather, so the state is not well prepared when extreme weather occurs, and issues presented in 2021 could happen once again.

“Texas is not built for cold weather,” Watts said. “We have infrastructure that’s built for very hot weather and climate because that’s what Texas is used to. Now, with climate change, it’s getting colder, snowing more often, and we can’t handle that new kind of weather.”

According to KVUE, the best way to prepare for potential weather severity is to prevent expensive home repairs during the colder months. Clearing old brush from trees is one of the most helpful tips to prevent later home damage from fallen limbs as well as keeping a small stream of water flowing outside of houses in the outdoor hose, to prevent pipes from freezing and damaging. To prevent pipes from freezing inside, it can be helpful to drip the taps.

“The storm was challenging because my family had to figure out how to work together better to make sure everything got done properly,” sophomore Brandon Beeler said. “Someone had to collect snow to melt, someone had to move the fallen branches, someone had to drip the faucets, and someone had to research which stores still had food available to get groceries. It was a lot of stuff we never thought we’d be doing.”

It’s also recommended to keep a portable charger on hand for phones or medical devices, as well as an extra packet of batteries to be used for flashlights or battery-powered lanterns

“The hardest thing was not being able to communicate. I couldn’t use my phone ever because I couldn’t charge it,” Beeler said. “So, not being able to communicate with the outside world made me realize how much I had that I’ve taken for granted. It opened my eyes so much, that was probably the hardest, the loss of communication.”

The state has made necessary updates to the grid in order to take on winter in the hopes of not running across a state-wide blackout. According to the Texas Tribune, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has completed 1,648 inspections of power plants, as well as utilities to ensure updates for another cold winter.

“Aside from buying a $5,000 generator, you just kind of have to endure it,” Garcia said. “Possibly you may have to light a fire, but really, you’re almost at the mercy of nature because there’s not anything you can do about the changing and harsh weather.”

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