As the temperature in her Dallas home plunged, Carol Uberbacher gathered piles of blankets and bundled up in three layers of clothes.
She also created a makeshift bed in her living room. Without firewood, she burned pieces of cardboard in the fireplace, shivering beneath every blanket in her home.
However, by Tuesday morning, the cold was becoming too much. Uberbacher was among the 4 million Texans who lost power this week as the state’s electrical grid collapsed in the path of two winter storms.
“It was terrifying,” Uberbacher, 76, said Friday morning. “But I know I was one of the fortunate ones.”
“It felt like this was happening on another planet, rather than a few miles away,” said MarySue Foster, a longtime friend who lives in Plano. “We felt helpless.”
So they began to work on the phones.
Pastor Bobbyray Williams was working on his Sunday sermon at Living Word Missionary Baptist Church, just a tenth of a mile from Uberbacher’s home on Shelburne drive in Riverway Estates/Bruton Terrace, near the border of Mesquite.
Williams, who lives in Waxahachie, had considered staying home Tuesday. His typical 30-minute commute took over an hour as he inched forward on snow and ice.
Rather, he was at his desk just before 10 a.m. to answer a frantic call from Foster, trying to find someone to check on her friend before the police arrived.
“I was so happy I practically screamed in his ear,” Foster said.
Williams grabbed his heavy coat and headed down the street to Uberbacher’s home. The pastor rang the doorbell and knocked, but no one answered. He heard two dogs barking, so he didn’t give up.
After a few minutes, a confused and disoriented Uberbacher answered the door.
I’m quite surprised I woke up,” she said. “He was truly my guardian angel.”
Throughout the night, she had been in and out of sleep in what she thinks she were the early stages of hypothermia. By then, power had been out about 24 hours, although she does not recall the temperature inside her house.
“I was very much in my head and in my spirit, thinking about my life and all of the things left undone,” Uberbacher said. “It was very scary, but it was also a time to take a reckoning for myself.”
Williams took her cellphone to charge at his church, and police arrived and brought her to their cruiser to warm up. When she felt that first blast of heat, she laughed.
“Oh, this is warmth,” Uberbacher remembered thinking. “This is what heat feels like.”
Friends who live in Oak Cliff arrived to pick up her and her dogs, Roxie and Magnolia Pie, to stay with them for a few days.
Uberbacher returned home Thursday evening, a few hours after her power returned. She said she plans to volunteer at Williams’ church as soon as possible.
“It’s good to be home,” Uberbacher said. “I’ve watched the news, and I know this could have very well ended differently for me.”