The arctic blast caught Texas and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) completely unprepared.
The extreme winter weather event has plunged the DFW area into record low temperatures and caused rampant power outages, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without electricity and heat.
Many residents have voiced frustration about the energy grid’s lack of preparation and about slow response times from landlords regarding frozen pipes and other damages. Some have even threatened legal action against their landlords and ERCOT.
Local attorney Lauren Cadilac of Cadilac Law, PLLC hears those concerns, but her advice is for everyone to sit tight and focus on the situation at hand.
“First and foremost, people should not panic,” Cadilac says. “This is something that we’re going to have to get used to because we have changed the way our climate operates. I would tell people that your landlord probably also has burst pipes, so everyone is facing an emergency right now.”
“As soon as everything settles down, if you’re a tenant and there are damages, let your landlord know right away in writing,” she says. “The same goes with an emergency: let your landlord know right away.”
Cadilac emphasizes that as frustrating as it can be, these outages are affecting thousands of people across the metroplex.
“Now that there’s been this mass damage event, everyone is going to be busy repairing these damages,” Cadilac says. “It’s going to take forever for things to get repaired simply because there’s not enough people doing the repairs.”
As for legal options, she recommends that renters and homeowners find their insurance policies and review them closely. She also suggests that people take good photos of damages for when they file insurance claims. Cadilac says if the damage is bad enough that your home is unlivable, start looking for other housing options now.
“There’s going to be a ton of litigation and a ton of legislation that is going to come out of this,” Cadilac says. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already added ERCOT reform as an emergency item to this legislation session.
“Right now, make sure you’re warm. Make sure your children and pets are safe,” Cadilac says. “Hold on tight, and start reading your contracts.”