The hard freeze has passed leaving Katy residents to deal with damages or feel the relief of experiencing a less traumatic winter event. While last week’s temperatures showed Katy arctic numbers the lack of precipitation made the overall experience potentially less damaging for many.
Photo credit: Phyllis Schneider
Lessons from 2021 Helped Many Residents this Freeze
Many Katy residents feared a repeat of the winter storm of 2021 when temperatures dropped to the teens last week. In 2021 many residents and businesses experienced frozen and busted pipes. Power outages were widely reported, and residents scrambled to cope with a winter storm that reminded us why Texans are better suited for our warmer climate. But the combination of lessons learned from 2021 and a lack of precipitation made last week a better experience for many.
“The freeze of ’21 definitely taught many of us lessons on how to better prepare, but the grid holding up was the key factor,” says Fort Bend County Constable Chad Norvell. “Our homes didn’t get as cold as they did back then.”
Constable Norvell had busted pipes last year and says he felt the anxiety this time around and worried about the hard freeze.
“I made it through unscathed and am ready for hot weather to return,” says Constable Norvell.
A Katy Family Sees the Same Pipes Burst
Jeff and Phyllis Schneider weren’t as lucky. They had the same piped burst in this freeze as they had during the winter storm of 2021. Pipes burst and caved the ceiling in in their garage, art room, and a bathroom.
“We were home so we pulled our cars out and turned the water off,” says Phyllis Schneider. “The floor caved in and it fell on me as I tried to move things around, but I’m ok.”
This time around the Schneiders have even more damage.
“We did everything we were supposed to do but some of these pipes, like the garage piping doesn’t have the insulation,” says Schneider regarding her home in the Park Lake subdivision.
Fortunately finding help during Christmas was easy as their neighbor is a contractor.
A Heavily Damaged Home from 2021 Sees a Better Freeze
Whitney Peper’s home fared much better this freeze. During the winter storm in 2021 she had such extensive damage coupled with a difficult time with insurance that it took 8 months to repair their home. This time around their home just had a frozen exterior pipe.
“We had to let it thaw naturally, which was hard because it was a north facing wall so sun wasn’t getting to it on the colder days,” explains Peper.
Like many, Peper was extremely nervous about the freeze since their family had such a traumatic experience last year.
“We didn’t do anything different with the outside pipes this year, but probably will look into new options for next time just to save us the worry and stress,” says Peper.
Praise for a Local MUD
Katy resident Tara Racer in Nottingham Country had a pipe burst in her outdoor greenhouse.
“I could not turn the water off at the main and water was gushing,” says Racer. “I called the emergency helpline, but after waiting on hold and reaching someone the gentleman was at my house in under 10 minutes. He was so helpful.”
Two days later Racer had a plumber come out to fix the pipe and he couldn’t get that water to turn back on. She reached out again to the MUD office and someone came back out to help her.
“I was so appreciative, and the MUD district guys went above and beyond,” says Racer. “I have never had so much help from anyone and they were genuinely kind and compassionate, especially considering they were working on their holiday too.”
A Katy Resident Works to Help His Neighbors
While not a licensed plumber, Katy resident John Xu has experience and jumped into helping neighbors just like he did during the 2021 winter storm.
“I did several burst pipe repairs and the broken spots are either above the garage or above the porch. Interestingly, the garages and porch all face north and have no rooms above them, in other words, these pipes are literally in an isolated space with no any heat source around,” says Xu, who also says that it’s hard to drain the water from these pipes because it’s hard to siphon out the water.
He recommends the installation of a push-to-connect brass valve with drain that can be set next to the main house, but families should talk to a plumber for input.
Less Landscape Loss
Another big difference this freeze is the lack of dead trees and greenery. A drive around the city shows that plants bounced back without much problem this time. The freeze 2021 resulted in the unprecedented loss of Katy area landscaping.
While many Katy residents fared much better during this freeze, it is important to note what was different and how families and businesses can look ahead to the next time we experience a hard freeze.
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