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KSAT employees reflect on experience, what they learned about February freeze in 2021

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the February freeze, KSAT is reflecting on the experience and what our team learned.

SAN ANTONIO – As we approach the one-year anniversary of the February freeze, KSAT is reflecting on the experience and what our team learned.

Meteorologist Sarah Spivey described last year’s weather emergency as “unprecedented.”

Spivey, a San Antonio native, said losing power changed everything. The freeze forced millions of Texans to go without power and/or water for days.

“If we had maintained power through this event, we’d have a few busted pipes and we’d have some dead plants out there, but people would have been safe indoors and comfortable. But, since the power went out, there was no way to predict that on our end of things,” she said.

“If you’d asked me anytime before it actually happened, if that set of circumstances could have hit, I would’ve said it’s impossible,” said KSAT assignment editor Todd Stricker.

Stricker, who has been on the KSAT team for 30 years, has seen his fair share of disasters, but there’s one thing about last year that still bothers him. He felt helpless. Stricker explained that phone calls into the newsroom were non-stop, and people were desperate for help. Since the lines to 911 were jammed up, people called the KSAT newsroom for help.

“It’s the people that call [and say], ‘My parents are without power and they’re out of food. We don’t have any way to get to them and we can’t find anybody to get to them.’ That’s the part where it really starts to affect you,” Stricker said.

“I hear people joking, like, ‘Oh, I have such anxiety from last year. I was traumatized from last year,’ but the key is, I don’t think they’re joking,” Spivey said.

The freeze solidified Spivey’s strategy when it comes to guiding people through weather events. Now, she’s more committed than ever to focusing on the four Ps: People, pets, pipes and plants.

“Make sure your pets have a warm place. With your plants, if they’re sensitive to temperatures below freezing, bring them in or cover them up. People who do not have central heating, make sure they have a place to stay that’s warm and teach them about safety when it comes to your space heater. And, finally, pipes, there’s a lot of older homes around San Antonio. We have to think about what we’re going to do to make sure we don’t have those plumbing issues again,” Spivey said.

As for Stricker, he often thinks about the people left out in the cold last year. It’s renewed his commitment to journalism - informing the public, keeping them safe, and speaking truth to power.

“All we can do is give the people the information on what happened and hope they make changes. And the people that represent them, they need to reach out to them and hold them accountable,” he said.

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About the Author:

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.