With snowstorms raging across the country, University of Michigan students are grappling with bad weather conditions while taking virtual classes from across the country.
LSA junior Emery Hakim has been living with friends in an apartment on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus for the Winter 2021 semester. Texas has been particularly hard-hit by the weather, and Hakim said she and her roommates have not had water supply for the last few days. All classes and activities at UT-Austin, including virtual activities, were canceled due to the snowstorm. She said the grocery stores are not open and the roads are not clear, forcing Hakim and her roommates to conserve their food until the situation resolves.
“We really did not expect for it to get this bad,” Hakim said. “Like we knew it was going to snow, and it snows all the time in Michigan, but now the entire city is shut down and classes (at UT-Austin) have been canceled.”
Engineering freshman Tom Sherman, on campus in Ann Arbor, was trying to get to his 8:30 a.m. class on North Campus on Tuesday and had to decide between taking the bus and riding his bike 2.6 miles. Sherman said the bus is cold anyway since the windows are kept open to reduce the spread of COVID-19, so he chose to bike.
“That was a mistake because the sidewalks weren’t clear, and I fell off my bike,” Sherman said. “I guess in a normal year it would be nice to ride in a nice, warm bus and have the bus drop you right outside your building. I guess those aren’t luxuries we have this year.”
LSA sophomore Maryam Haltam is taking classes from her home in Plano, Texas. She said her house lost power for a couple of hours, causing her to join the widespread panic across the state.
“When we lost power, we started panicking and my dad started looking for hotels but they were all full,” Haltam said.
Luckily, the power came back shortly after. Haltam also said she got to help some of her neighbors who had lost power and water.
“Our neighbors came over to have dinner with us since they had lost power for two days,” Haltam said. “I know a ton of people right now who do not have internet, cell service and are literally shivering in their houses trying to stay warm.”
Haltam said she is concerned about the state’s response to the snowstorm and how state leadership is navigating the crisis.
“(Texas Gov.) Greg Abbott went live, and he was like, ‘Guys it’s because we actually do need fossil fuels because renewable energy isn’t reliable,’ which isn’t true,” Haltam said. “Because the actual problem wasn’t that. It was the outdated power plants that cannot withstand the cold.”
Gov. Abbott and other Republican politicians falsely blamed frozen wind turbines as the root cause of the widespread power outages in Texas that left almost 3 million homes without power. Renewable energy only accounted for 13% of the power outages. Coal and gas energy sources accounted for double the amount of energy lost.
According to the Texas Tribune, the state also decided to not update their equipment to withstand harsh winter weather conditions per energy and policy experts. Many Texan politicians also chose to ignore warnings for extreme weather, citing they “prioritized the free market.”
Hakim said she lost power Wednesday afternoon and is concerned that she might not be able to submit a paper due on Friday without access to WiFi.
“I’m pretty sure my professor will understand,” Hakim said. “But there’s a lot of chaotic energy here in this apartment right now.”
Daily Staff Reporter Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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