Austin Nurse Refuses to Evacuate Winter-Hit Neighborhood, Stays to Care for Neighbors in Need During Power Outage

February 25, 2021 Updated: March 7, 2021

Since freezing temperatures hit Texas, causing power outages and water shortages across the state, many have struggled to keep warm, wash, drink, and even flush their toilets. With neighbors in dire straights, nurse Emily Grigsby passed on the opportunity to leave her cold-stricken Austin neighborhood in favor of staying behind to help.

Speaking to The Epoch Times via social media, the 39-year-old mom of two reflected, “Above all, may we be reminded of the importance to love thy neighbor!”

At the peak of Winter Storm Uri’s wrath upon Emily’s neighborhood, the power was out for 72 hours straight. On one of the first dark nights without power, Texas native Emily, her husband Will, and their kids made the most of it, playing piano and sleeping in a makeshift fort by the fireplace.

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Emily Grigsby endures the cold weather to care for her neighbors in dire straights. (Courtesy of Emily Grigsby)

“I started checking on my elderly neighbors once that 24-hour mark passed, and that’s when I found how dire the situation really was. … It made me very aware that we had to stay to help,” Emily told People. Leaving was an option, she said—around 75 percent of her neighbors did evacuate—but it was not one she would entertain.

Some of Emily’s elderly neighbors quickly found themselves without food or the means to stay warm. Many began boiling snow to use as drinking water and to flush toilets. But there were also casualties.

Emily trudged through the biting 32-degree-Fahrenheit (zero-degree-Celsius) weather when a neighbor burned herself badly on Feb. 18 by accidentally pouring boiling water on her leg. One of Emily’s neighbors who uses a wheelchair also required help.

“We’ve been feeding her since last Thursday, three meals a day,” Emily explained.

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Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign in Killeen, Texas, on Feb. 18, 2021 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As power outages persisted, Emily began visiting her elderly neighbors each morning. Calling it “just a really sad situation,” she lamented having to explain to her boys, aged 9 and 12, that she had to check their pulses to make sure they were still alive.

Yet Emily suspects the situation could have been much worse had her family not stayed behind.

“I think that for us, it was just really important to recognize the needs around us,” she said. “I think knowing your community, knowing the needs, being able to respond, is really important when it comes to an event like this.”

To support a communal need, Emily’s family built an aqueduct to collect snow melt for flushing toilets, which they shared with neighbors who lacked the means to collect water on their own.

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Emily Grigsby with her husband (Courtesy of Emily Grigsby)

The mom of two hopes that state leaders can learn from Winter Storm Uri and make sufficient provisions for the future, so that Texans don’t have to endure such horrific conditions again. She says it is the worst storm she has seen in Texas in her lifetime.

Lack of water remained an issue, but power was restored in Emily’s area on Feb. 17. “I’m literally seeing the light now, in more ways than one, so I’m really grateful at this point,” Emily told People.

The nurse plans to continue caring for her neighbors until the situation improves for all, at which point she will return to work at the hospital.

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