By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Below-freezing temperatures swept across Central Texas Wednesday, leaving many residences and businesses without power sporadically throughout the day.
The outages began early morning after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ordered rolling blackouts to ease the strain on the state's electricity grid.
In turn, consumers flocked to stores to snatch up cold-weather items such as propane, warm clothing, home supplies and firewood.
Such was the case at Lowe's in Killeen. Except for a few bits of insulation, many cold-weather supplies at the store were sold out before noon, including faucet covers, propane, firewood and electric heaters, said Javier Molina, department manager of customer service. The store operated off a backup generator during blackouts that struck without warning.
The Starbucks coffee shop located off Trimmier Road was facing its own problems from the blackouts. Baristas closed down the main cafe area because of a lack of heat; however, the drive-thru was left open. An employee at the store said there was an electric fire in the heater. The likely culprit was the power blackout that preceded the morning fire.
KD Yogurt, in the same shopping center, also had problems.
"Our electricity kept going out so our machine keeps locking up," said Elvia Rivera, KD Yogurt manager.
Rivera said the store would stay open if it could get its machines fully operational, noting that despite the cold, business was noticeably better Tuesday and the trend could continue.
"It's something that feels good on your throat," said Emilie Fries, a KD Yogurt employee whose Germanic last name is ironically pronounced "freeze." "It's like their coffee gets cold, but their yogurt stays cold."
Next door to Starbucks, RadioShack manager Dan Winkelman said burning smells wafted across to his store. RadioShack and other stores in the area were forced to go to cash-only payments.
Winkelman said condensation froze the store's locks shut as well. It was hard to open the doors without gloves - an item he thought he could buy at a nearby Walmart.
This would have been possible any other day. As was the case at many places Wednesday morning, the Killeen Walmart was lacking in the cold-weather supplies department as well. Basic clothing items such as beanie hats, scarves, and even gloves, were sold out.
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.