SAN ANTONIO — When Angel Contero stepped out her front door on Feb. 15, 2021, she was greeted by snow.
“I don’t know that we were anticipating or knew that it was going to happen,” Contero said.
It went from a pleasant surprise to a disaster pretty quickly.
“That’s when we realized like, hey, we have a problem,” Contero said.
Five consecutive days without power was the problem. Then tragedy hit her quiet South San Antonio neighborhood.
“My particular neighbor did lose her daughter during the winter storm and it was really hard. That was the only person she had in the house that she had with her,” Contero said. “She was my age and I feel like she comes to me to fill that void.”
The storm itself was a lot of for Texans to process mentally and emotionally. Therapist Jessica Reynolds says it’s a lot more serious than folks realize.
“If it’s too hard, too fast, too soon, if it’s coming too hard, which is what happened during the winter storm, it happened out of nowhere, where your body doesn’t have a chance to respond,” Reynolds said. “Almost like a disbelief.”
Reynolds helps folks deal with trauma through her practice Purple Couch Therapy on San Antonio’s East Side. He says the winter storm is going to have long-term effects on Texans.
“The way the brain remembers, it just doesn’t remember the memory, it can remember a smell, or even if it gets cold again, they get anxious,” Reynolds said.
That’s why Texans prepare for the worst when the weather reaches freezing temperatures, especially when you are someone like Angel who has children and pets to look after.
“This is one of the big buckets that we had that we filled with water,” Contero said.
Suddenly, normal kitchen items become tools to survive.
“The water wasn’t clean, so we had to buy a water filter system to deal with that problem, so that was another thing we had to pay for,” Contero said.
Reynolds says these stressors aren’t going away anytime soon.
“We are going to have more natural disasters and what happens in our environment affects us internally,” Contero said.
Contero says what eases that burden is how tight-knit the Southside is.
“You hear these stories on how neighbors helping neighbors and it’s just a beautiful thing and I don’t see that stopping here, especially here on the Southside,” Contero said.