Last month brought an unprecedented cold snap across the country, with temperatures dipping well below zero in many states. Here in Oregon, we experienced the worst ice storm we’ve had in more than 20 years. Tens of thousands of people lost power, including some of our team members at Syncta. Thankfully, power was restored for most after about a week, and the warm weather is slowly creeping in. But compared to other parts of the country, we know just how lucky we were.
In particular, Texas was hit extremely hard after experiencing days of record low temperatures. According to an article by NBC News, more than four million people were without power at the height of the storm. And almost two weeks later, CBS News reported that “over 14 million Texans were still without water or were under boil notices.”
Although our Watts site in Forth Worth, Texas did not lose power or water, many employees were impacted by the weather. Taylor Fyfe, Forth Worth’s Human Resources Manager, said that while they kept the building open to employees, only about 5-10% were able to get to work the week of the storm. “Employees were either dealing with losing power in their homes or not being able to drive on the roads due to the amount of ice/slush on them,” he said.
Fyfe added that just days before the storm, icy conditions caused a massive 133 vehicle pileup on Interstate 35W, a road that is commonly used by Watts employees to get to work. According to KENS 5 news, at least six people died in the accident, and 65 people received treatment for their injuries. “Frankly, I am shocked that none of our employees were hurt in that event. The only saving grace (was) that most of our employees do shift work and had to be in before the crash took place,” Fry said.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), severe weather also canceled blood drives across the country. But despite all of the challenges that employees in Forth Worth have recently faced, they stepped up to help others by holding a blood drive on March 9th.
Watts’ site in San Antonio, Texas lost power for several days, and a large number of employees were personally impacted. Many of them lost power and didn’t have running water during the storm, and some were also affected by damaged homes and apartments. One employee in San Antonio had to evacuate his apartment when a pipe in an apartment above his burst. And the employees who were lucky enough to have access to water were under a boil advisory for several days.
Things are slowly starting to return to normal in San Antonio. One employee said, “I think many (people) are just happy to have basic amenities back. San Antonio just isn’t prepared for cold snaps like that.”
Even though Syncta is part of a global company, at our core, all of us at Watts are real people who are impacted by the same events that affect the rest of the world. The team here at Syncta would like to offer our support and solidarity to all of our friends, family, colleagues, and customers in Texas as they recover from one of the worst winter storms in decades. As the warmer weather arrives, here’s to hoping for a completely uneventful spring. After the difficult year that so many of us have had, uneventful and boring sounds kind of nice for a change.