PEI

P.E.I. roots help Islander deliver emergency supplies to people in Texas

A Prince Edward Islander now living in Florida is delivering necessities to people in Texas. He says what is seen as a typical winter day on P.E.I is very different in the Lone Star State.

'After 48 hours, you expect to see a snowplow. But really, there were none'

Craig Macvarish, now based in Florida, was used to icy roads while growing up on P.E.I. (Submitted by Craig Macvarish)

Craig Macvarish is no stranger to winter driving. He grew up on P.E.I., where navigating the odd icy road or two was a rite of passage. 

But being stuck on a Texas highway for over eight hours following a snowstorm — that was a first.

"I think that when a person with a lot of experience with winter gets basically stranded on an interstate ... that is really — it's a humbling experience," Macvarish said. 

"You realize that you're only as good as the infrastructure."

'I'm bringing generators'

Macvarish moved to the U.S. around a decade ago and for the past five years has been working as an independent truck driver. He said he was transporting honeybees when snow started to take the southern states by storm — literally. 

"Ice packed on the road somewhere in the neighborhood of four to six inches," he said. 

"After 48 hours, you expect to see a snowplow. But really, there were none. Very little salt and almost no sand."

A snow-covered Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge leads to downtown after a heavy snowfall on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

In Texas, millions were left without power at points during the week as temperatures dropped to record-breaking lows. Officials estimate around 40 people have died and many still lack access to safe drinking water. 

"I'm bringing generators down to Austin [Friday]," said Macvarish, who also transported water to Dallas. 

"I'm just really hoping that the highway will be open so that I can get these safely down to the folks that need them." 

'Nothing to compare it with'

While Macvarish's truck is heavy, he said he has driven by hundreds of disabled vehicles. 

"I am so familiar with driving on icy and winter roads, but I still realize that people have to slow down." 

Craig Macvarish says ice was freezing on the river in Fort Worth, Texas. (Submitted by Craig Macvarish)

By P.E.I. standards, Macvarish said it's "actually an amazingly beautiful day" in the Lone Star State. 

"There's snow all around and it's piled up. Traffic is kind of slow, but the sun is splitting the trees."

Craig Macvarish says this truck was stuck on the icy interstate in Dallas. 'They really didn't have snow moving equipment,' he says. (Submitted by Craig Macvarish)

However, for those experiencing a P.E.I.-style storm for the first time, in a state unprepared for this type of weather, he said he can understand how scary it might be. 

"These folks have nothing to compare it with," he said. 

"I think that they're a little bit afraid, which I suppose is a normal reaction to something that they're not used to. We Islanders are pretty tough."

And as for Macvarish, he said the situation has reminded him how crucial a role those who clean up during and after snowstorms play on the Island. 

"My dad was a veteran of snow removal in Prince Edward Island for 47 years," he said. 

"Those guys just do an amazing job."

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