Our world has been in a state of unprecedented crisis for the last year. As coronavirus spread through America and infected hundreds of thousands of people, Texas was hit with another emergency in the form of the winter storm.

In times like these, the American people need strong and effective leadership, and we simply haven’t received any of it on a federal or state level.

Those in control of our government and of our energy have failed to provide us with the most fundamental of services, and thus it’s up to us as communities to help those in need among ourselves and hold those in power accountable for their failures.

We all know how dire things have been with COVID-19, but it bears repeating. According to statistics by Johns Hopkins University, as of March 3, America is the world leader in both COVID-19 infections and deaths, standing at 28.7 million cases and 518,000 deaths, more than double anyone else.

We clearly have the resources and scientific knowledge to have done better, and there’s really nowhere else to look at but our leadership as the weakest link.

The storm, too, is the showcase for a phenomenal failure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Commission released a report on how winter weather shut down energy infrastructure in Texas.

“While extreme cold weather events are obviously not as common in the Southwest as elsewhere, they do occur every few years ... . And when they do, the cost in terms of dollars and human hardship is considerable,” according to the report.

This report and this quote are from 2011. Those in control of our energy have known for a decade that we as a state were woefully unprepared for another winter storm, and we paid the price for it again. All this isn’t even mentioning how the report pointed to previous energy disasters from cold weather in 1983, 1989, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

That being said, it almost seems like our country is falling apart. We should absolutely demand accountability from those in power, whether through our vote or other means of demonstration, but why wait around on that to pay dividends?

Even in our own city of Galveston there are people righting some of these wrongs: Nurses from the University of Texas Medical Branch provided not only coronavirus vaccines, but food, water and blankets to those who needed them most during the storm. My own family was offered a place to stay if we needed it from friends. And as we deal with the fallout of the storm, local officials are advocating for us to the powers that be.

We as a community can and should help each other like this. Promises from above are one thing, but real and tangible community actions like coming together at a food drive to put food into the hands of our hungry or offering support to our shivering neighbors during a crisis, make a world of difference in a world that needs it.

Spencer Petty lives in Galveston.

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(2) comments

Wayne D Holt

Thank you, Spencer, for articulating a truth that has been lost among many Americans. Real power, real solutions evolve from the bottom up, not the top down. Waiting for entrenched bureaucracies to lead, whether Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated, will almost always leave us disappointed.

Accountability from those in positions of leadership now, and a concerted and ongoing effort to decentralize ossified institutions and systems will return decision making closer to our community, neighborhoods and families.

Thanks for pointing out a much needed response to the wholly unnecessary disasters that America, and Texans in particular, have experienced in the past year.

Stuart Crouch

A pleasant and timely message to remind us all of why we are here. A sense of community and benevolence towards others goes a long way in establishing/maintaining an empathetic cohesiveness and sense of belonging. Synergistic results are borne from collective efforts at the local level and, as a healthy by-product, a perceptually elevated quality of life ensues.

That being said, one need only look at the disasters which the author cites to understand the very real, consequential perils of flawed leadership. Vote wisely (while they still allow us to) and let us all learn from some very painful and persistent lessons received over the past few years, such that history does not have to repeat itself in such a devastating manner.

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