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Living Off the Grid: Magna5 Stories of Perseverance During Recent Weather Crisis

There’s a colorful saying in the Lone Star State: Texas has four seasons – drought, flood, blizzard and twister. Last week’s record-breaking cold weather that paralyzed the state with widespread power outages and water shortages tested the “true grit” of most Texans. Millions of people were without power or heat in the freezing single-digit temperatures. Businesses were shutdown with no electricity to operate. Trucks could not deliver supplies to stores due to solid icy roads. Frozen internet connections and cell towers made communications sporadic. Major water line breaks and system failures put the water supply at extremely low levels.

It is times like these when living off the grid means turning on the creative juices to make the best of a bad situation. Here are a few Magna5 Texas employee stories of resolve, strength and determination.


“In order to stay warm after running out of firewood, I made fire logs out of rolled up New York Times papers wrapped in National Geographic magazines soaked in rubbing alcohol. When I ran out of rubbing alcohol, I soaked pages of the New York Times in an ignition solution of brandy, cooking oil and sugar. It worked wonders! I had a fire going all the time.”  Jay


“All of the drain pipes upstairs in our house froze. The showers and bathtubs wouldn’t drain. We had no idea what to do since it was the first time for us to deal with such a thing. When the rolling power came on, we went online and searched what to do and several sources said to pour boiling salt water down the drains. So, we did that, and it worked! It took a couple days of doing this, but they eventually thawed. We were very lucky not to have suffered any pipe breaks. Our house has PVC pipes, so maybe that kept it from happening as opposed to copper pipes that so many of our friends had and they had issues. For entertainment during the power-off cycle, we played games since we didn’t have TV or internet. So, we played UNO with headlamps on!”  Loretta


“About 2:30 a.m. Monday morning, the rolling blackouts started. Power would go out for 45-60 minutes and come back on for 30-45 minutes. The first blackout caused all the fire alarms in the house to go crazy. We spent the next half hour in the dark with a step ladder pulling them out of the ceiling.

“The rolling blackouts were quite the experience, causing us to get creative for the 30 minutes or so we had power – so that we could get a meal made quickly or check our emails. Whenever the power would go off, the cell data was non-existent.

“While we had rolling blackouts, many folks just a few miles away were left without power anywhere from 29 to 40 hours. We housed one of my son’s friends for a couple of days. His house was having longer periods of time without power and they couldn’t get the house warmer than 40 degrees. His mother wanted to stay at her house and sleep in front of the fireplace, but she wanted her kids to be able to stay where the temperatures were well above the 40 degrees. Our house never got lower than 62 degrees even at night.

“What was extremely sad was the amount of damage many of our friends suffered. Many, whose power was out for so long, were so happy to finally have heat restored and then become helpless again as all the pipes warmed up and drenched their homes due to busted pipes. Many were helpless to find and shut off the main water valve, having to call the fire department to come help, which they did in record time. There was an unbelievable outpouring of banding together to help each other out.”  Dena


“Where there is a will, there is a way. Our rolling power blackouts were 6-7 hours off, 1 hour on. This went on for several days, with an unpredictable schedule. Our house was regularly 47 degrees. The gas-log fireplace had no effect in heating our home. To stay warm, we went out in the garage, raised the garage door and fired up the car to keep warm with the car heater and charge our phones. Our cable provider was down three days, leaving us with no TV, internet or landline phones. The good news is our pipes didn’t freeze.”  Mike


There are many similar stories like these throughout Texas. The human spirit comes alive when people are challenged to step up and respond. Magna5 employees are a resilient bunch thriving on keeping positive and taking care of others … whether family, friends, strangers or customers. Bring it on!