Low-income Texans, especially those of color, disproportionately bore the burdens of the state’s power grid failure that left them huddling for warmth, and dying, without heat in poorly insulated homes. Authorities across the state prioritized keeping electricity on for critical facilities like hospitals, meaning that the generally wealthier, and whiter, communities that shared those facilities’ circuits also had power. This meant that those with limited resources to relocate or take shelter in a hotel were those most likely to lose their power, most likely to lose income from hourly-wage jobs, and least able to pay to replenish the food that spoiled in their refrigerators and freezers, never mind the cost of repairing burst water pipes.
Food shortages were also most pronounced in poor Black and Hispanic communities where food deserts are common. Communities of color and poorer communities are also frequently short-changed when it comes to post-disaster aid. “We continue to be the victims of social injustice, food injustice, systemic racism — all of it,” Gloria Vera-Bedolla, a Latina community organizer, told Vox. Bera-Bedolla’s neighborhood on the east side of I-35 is home to a vast share of Austin’s Black and Hispanic populations. “We’re fighting these systems that were not made for the success of Black and Brown people,” she said. (Texas Tribune, Vox, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, E&E $)