Grand Rapids teacher gets stuck in the midst of Texas winter storm

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 17:19:01-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Texas is still dealing with the effects of a winter storm that left millions without power, water or heat.

A teacher from Grand Rapids is currently stuck there after planning to only be there for the long weekend.

What the Grand Rapids couple expected to be a four-day trip costing them under one thousand dollars has now turned into at least a week-long trip, where they're spending three- to- four times more than they had hoped.

RELATED: Why are millions of people in Texas still without power?

The couple said they haven't even been able to explore the things Austin has to offer.

"I would say an absolute complete shutdown no matter where you go, and it is crazy. I have never seen anything like this," said Shari Cashen, a South Christian High School teacher who is stuck in Austin, Texas.

When Shari Cashen walks out of her hotel in Austin, Texas, she sees the effects of a winter storm that has left the entire state struggling.

“This was a shocker, just what we consider normal things in Michigan. Like this would be no big deal. By noon we'd be able to go drive by noon in Michigan, whereas here this is lasting four or five days," said Cashen.

Shari and her husband said they flew from Grand Rapids to Austin on Friday for a long weekend trip. They found out that day their flight for Monday had been canceled, and other planes had been grounded.

She said on Saturday almost everything in the city shut down, making it hard to even get basic supplies with lines reaching a half mile long for stores that remained open.

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"We couldn’t get into the grocery store, because we didn’t want to wait in that line. So, what we ended up doing is we drove around a very long time and found one pizza place that had 100-some people in line. I went and stood in line for over an hour. We just got four large pizzas to last us the next four days, and that is all we are eating," said Cashen.

About a third of people in Austin were without power at one point, and many are still without heat and even water.

Mike Nichols, who just recently moved from Grand Rapids to Austin a couple of months ago said he was without power for around 48 hours and might be losing his water too.

"Whatever water we have left we'll put it in some storage, so we have something to store and use. Apparently we might run out of water pretty soon, or they might have to shut it off because the systems are just collapsing. This is really scary. This is pretty bad," said Mike Nichols, who moved from Grand Rapids to Austin a few months ago.

With no plows or salt trucks, many of the highways have closed down. Roads that remain open are covered in ice, which makes it dangerous to drive. Even those who would like to leave can't.

"I am thinking we can still get out of here Saturday. It’s just crazy because that makes it over a week being here that we didn’t plan on," said Cashen.

The Cashens currently have a flight scheduled back to Michigan for Friday evening. If that flight ends up getting canceled, Shari said she will look at driving options to get back home.

She said it wasn't possible to drive earlier because the roads were bad even days after the snow had fallen.

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