PODCAST: Ralph Garcia, the Polar Vortex, & San Antonio’s Disability Community

Ralph Garcia and the polar vortex in Texas
Ralph Garcia at home in San Antonio during a blackout. Image: Courtesy

“This is to CPS. This is to any energy supply company. And this message is to every mayor in the Texas region, and including the Governor, that I want to listen to this. Right now your disabled community is dying.”

With millions of people across Texas out of power and much of Texas iced over due to the Arctic’s native weather sliding dangerously across the Plains and into San Antonio, Ralph Garcia has suffered like many others. His access to power has lasted no longer than 45 minutes at a time for the last 48 hours. But the failure of state energy planners coupled with the bitter cold hitting all power sources—most conspicuously gas power plants—has placed some at greater risk than others. The climate crisis is no game. But the impact on people with disabilities has largely gone unreported.

Now 25, Ralph was born with muscular dystrophy and requires a range of treatments every day that require access to electric power, among them nebulizers, a feeding device, and suction and cough assistance machines. Without power, as hundreds of thousands of San Antonio residents remain today, Ralph and his mom have closed themselves off in his bedroom and packed the window with sheets and blankets in an attempt to try to stay warm. Because of his medical equipment and because both he and his mom are immunocompromised, moving to one of the city’s warming centers is not an option. Ralph’s mother, struggling with the impact of radiation treatments for cervical cancer, was sleeping beside him on the floor beside him during this interview. —Greg Harman


Contribute to Ralph Garcia’s GoFundMe campaign to pay for a solar generator. While he’s been gifted a gas-powered generator, such is contraindicated when oxygen tanks are in the house. Keep tabs on him through Facebook or Instagram.

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