Failure of Leadership Left Texas Families in the Dark

The catastrophic power blackout in Texas during a deadly winter storm, like the state’s disastrous response to the COVID pandemic that has killed thousands of Texans, came from a failure of leadership, TFN President Val Benavidez said as legislative committees held committee hearing on the crisis. Check out our press release here.

TFN, Clergy, Young Texans Call for Action after Disastrous Power Outage in Deadly Winter Storm

February 25, 2021

The devastating power and water outages that left families across Texas struggling to survive a deadly winter storm revealed a failure of state leadership and an urgent need for action, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today as state legislative committees held emergency hearings on the matter.

“The disastrous response to COVID and now a catastrophic power outage make clear that Gov. Abbott and other Republican leaders who have run this state for decades have failed Texas families,” TFN President Val Benavidez said. “They care so much about protecting corporate profits and the interests of the powerful that they left people out in the cold, depriving families of heat and water in the middle of a bone-chilling winter storm. They are blaming others now, but they are the ones responsible for the public policies that contributed to this miserable failure. We need accountability and action to make sure Texans get the relief they need from one mismanaged crisis after another.”

Federal regulators and other experts warned a decade ago that state leaders weren’t doing enough to ensure Texas power companies were prepared for a weather emergency like last week’s severe winter storm. Millions of Texans lost electricity and then water when the power grid failed as temperatures plummeted. And the state remains vulnerable to more extreme weather because of climate change, a fact many state leaders ignore or reject altogether, Benavidez said.

Faith communities worked to help those in need as temperatures plummeted, but the state needs leaders who take effective action to prevent such crises, said the Rev. Katheryn Barlow-Williams, senior pastor at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church and a member of Just Texas, a movement of progressive clergy who support social justice.

“Texans, whatever their religious faith, believe in fairness and helping those in need,” said Rev. Barlow-Williams, whose congregants provided blankets and jackets and worked with other faith communities to find shelter for those without homes. “Our leaders should carry those values with them into office and make sure everyone, no matter who they are, where they live or how much money they have, has the resources they need to keep their families warm, fed and safe, especially in a crisis. We need leaders who take responsibility, put partisanship aside and engage in constructive action. Effective leadership will help those who were devastated by the storm and prevent this from ever happening again.”

Cerena Haefs, an activist at Stephen F. Austin University in TFN’s Texas Rising program for young Texans, had to abandon her home in Nacogdoches during the extended power outage and move into her partner’s dorm room for safety.

“Like many in my community, we expected it to be cold and planned to keep warm in our homes,” Haefs said. “What we did not expect was for a failure of leadership to translate into a power failure that brought the freezing temperatures from outside into our homes, apartments and dorm rooms. Too many people needlessly suffered because of this event. I am part of a generation that is working to ensure we have leaders who put Texans and their families, not corporate interests, first. It is the only way to prevent human-caused disasters like this one.”


The Texas Freedom Network ( is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice. Learn more about TFN’s Just Texas program at and Texas Rising at