Sunday, September 26, 2021

MSU alumni in Texas rely on community to combat harsh winter weather

February 25, 2021
<p>A drone photo shows the snow in Texas. Photo courtesy of Alexander and Kayla Banks</p>

A drone photo shows the snow in Texas. Photo courtesy of Alexander and Kayla Banks

Waking up to use the bathroom last Sunday at 3 a.m., MSU alumna Maribel Cisneros flicked the light switch and nothing happened. She was worried about losing power but assumed the snow would melt the next day. What followed were days of freezing temperatures, power outages and loss of water for Texas residents.

Cisneros graduated in December 2000 with a business supply chain management degree. She grew up in Michigan, but moved south because she prefers warmer weather. Now she lives in Pflugerville, Texas. After about 20 years, she has adapted to the climate and worried about the lack of resources during these conditions.

“They didn’t prepare us; Texas is not prepared,” Cisneros said. “We don’t have salt trucks. We don’t have all the services that we need to help with people in this condition.”

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Cisneros is disappointed in the government because she said members were blaming each other for the issues instead of trying to solve them.

“I understand there’s different variables, but to me, it’s frustrating as a citizen living here now that they are even playing the blame game,” Cisneros said. “Fix it or help your Texans, your citizens. Help our community versus getting on the news, blaming everybody else and not actually taking any kind of action or response to help everybody.”

During this time, Cisneros had family visiting from Michigan. Concerned about her younger son and nephew, she became more frustrated with the outages.

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“I was really about to lose it about the third morning when we still didn’t get any power and they’re saying they’re trying to,” Cisneros said. “... I was getting more worried that 'are we going to go another day like this in the cold?'”

Having family close by was helpful because as a single mother, she would’ve had to handle this situation alone.

“I think they helped — being around — so that we could go through this together and keep each other’s spirit up and hang out and cook for each other,” Cisneros said.

Other helpful resources for MSU alumni living in Texas were Facebook groups. Arish Rojas, a marketing and international business graduate from the class of 2010 is a member of the Austin Spartans group as well as Cisneros.

In his apartment, he didn’t lose electricity, but he lost water for over a week. Because the heating system uses hot water, there was no heat either. 

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After noticing many fellow alumni posting on their own pages about their experiences, he wrote a post for the Austin Spartans encouraging them to share their stories with each other. In the comments, he linked documents with information like official notices, a spreadsheet with information on warming centers and a phone number to text to receive electric company updates.

“It’s fantastic for people to come together and share their knowledge and share the stories and share the features,” Rojas said. “That was really nice. I’m glad I’m part of the community and hope I can help people as well. Spartans Will.”

Rojas said his post was viewed by over 600 people. He hopes groups like these can continue to uplift their communities.

“We always try to do our best for the whole community,” Rojas said. “I have been part of multiple alumni associations back in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Tucson — and now here in Austin. ... The biggest thing is try to be a part of the community, try to continue to help people and just have fun. The Spartans are always there to help each other, so that’s great."

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