Teachers lending helping hands to neighbors, reaching out to friends during rolling blackouts


Akhila Gunturu

Trees are covered in snow on Sunday. Since Monday, Coppell has been navigating power outages and water shortages as a result of freezing temperatures and snow.

Victoria Hertel, Student Life Editor

What was intended to be a single weather day off school ended up being a week of power outages and bursting pipes for some Coppell High School students and teachers. 

Coppell woke up on Monday morning to discover freezing temperatures and rolling blackouts in numerous households. For some, water pipes burst; they were left cautious to leave due to the dangerous icy roads.

“I was looking forward to a quiet Monday off,” CHS AP World History teacher Shawn Hudson said. “I learned more about the Texas electric grid than I ever thought I would need to know and also got a crash course in winterizing my house because we’ve never [had to] drip our faucets [before]. I’m exhausted and I need a break after the break.”

Numerous Coppell High School teachers were negatively affected by the low temperatures, however, since Coppell ISD closed this week they repaired their homes and engaged in activities away from school.

“The first part of the week I was keeping my daughter, who is a year and a half, entertained with no power,” Hudson said. “Her daycare opened yesterday and power was back, so since then I’ve been thinking about school. Because of the power situation we have not gone out [in the snow] too much, but [my wife and I] did take my daughter out a couple of times.”

Hudson experienced rolling power outages until Thursday but none of his pipes burst. On Thursday, he helped his neighbors shut off plumbing due to burst pipes.

“It’s been hard frankly,” Hudson said. “We spent every day [asking] how long the warmth was going to last. Yesterday, our power came back and luckily we made it without losing any pipes, but we helped two neighbors shut off their plumbing yesterday because they had pipes burst.”

CHS astronomy teacher Angela Barnes has lived in a tiny house for two years, which felt the impacts of the cold storm. The home’s hose for fresh water broke, the shower drain froze and the shower started to flood her house on Monday.

“I have been mopping water off the floor and unclogging the shower drain,” Barnes said. “Winterizing [the house] and having an electrical hose are things that I didn’t realize that I needed. I didn’t need them last winter because we didn’t get below freezing. It’s been super stressful, but a great learning experience.”

Barnes cooked while the power was out with the help of her propane stove which does not need electricity to function.

“I’ve been cooking, which I love to do when we’re kept in, so I made sure that I bought a bunch of groceries last week,” Barnes said. “Even if I didn’t have power, I had a propane stove, so I was able to cook with or without power.”

Meanwhile, CHS Spanish teacher Emilia Hamm has been walking outside during the four days off of school. She lived in Winnipeg, Canada for three years where the average low for February is 1 degree fahrenheit.

“[I have been] walking miles outside and have enjoyed reading some amazing AP Spanish blogs,” Hamm said.

CHS teachers have been adjusting their lesson plans to accommodate for the week off. An AP World History test scheduled for Thursday and Friday was moved to next week. 

“Like we learned in the past year, there are things more important than class,” Hudson said. “Given the uncertainty I don’t have any problem with CISD closing schools. I know teachers are going to be upset about losing a week of class, but I hope kids got to have a bit of a break from constant Zooming, homework and grades.”

Overall, CHS teachers have learned more about how to accomodate for future power outages and are increasingly grateful for the electricity they have.

“I think by Monday everything is going to be under control because we’re going to be above freezing and it seems like everybody’s power will be back,” Barnes said. “It was important for everyone to take care of each other. I’ve gotten more phone calls from CISD staff, friends and teachers – I mean, dozens of people – that have called to check on me and I did the same for them. It’s been a really great week for being grateful for what you have and helping each other out.”

Follow Victoria (@veh37936) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.