CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Beautiful weather drew lots of people to area parks Wednesday, a day ahead of the anticipated arrival of a powerful cold front.
Corpus Christi resident Frank Garcia pushed his granddaughter in swing at McCaughan Park just off McGee Beach as he recalled the Arctic blast from almost a year ago — the February deep freeze.
“Oh that was awful," he said. "Wiped everything I had.”
Garcia was referring to the landscaping at his home which he's already partially replaced.
He'll move some of his new plants indoors ahead of Thursday's front, and cover the rest in hopes of protecting them from possible freezing temperatures and precipitation.
Garcia also has a generator in case the power goes out — but he might need a little help.
"It’s still in the box," he said. "I don’t think I know how to start it.”
The owner of a local resale shop says generators are in high demand ahead of the cold front. Items that are bought and returned to large home improvement stores end up on the shelves of No Hassle Tools and More on Ayers Street at deeply discounted prices.
Good deals and impending bad weather have business booming there.
“We’re going to sell out of these heaters," store owner Raoul Martinez said referring to space heaters for both homes and businesses. "We’re definitely going to sell out of these heaters. This generator will be gone."
Power companies hope generators won't be needed, but they're ready to move in and make repairs if the cold front causes outages.
One company is encouraged by reports from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that winterization efforts at power plants went well — efforts that became mandatory following rolling blackouts in February because of the deep freeze's impact on those plants' ability to produce power.
“That’s not to suggest that there won’t be some outages associated with weather in certain pockets of our service territory," A.E.P. Corporate Communications Manager Larry Jones said. "But the (state power) grid as a whole appears to be solid based on the information that we’re receiving from ERCOT.”
The possibility of isolated outages has Jones urging people to have alternative sources of power — especially if they rely on electrical medical equipment.
If Garcia can figure out how to operate his generator, he'll have that back-up. But if he can't, he says he has a cargo container full of aged mesquite wood he can use to keep warm.
“I can always build me a fire in the fireplace," he said.