“This is the coldest that it’s been in my lifetime,” he said. “This is number three of three big disasters for us.”
Rural areas were especially hard hit. Stafford Shurden, 47, a farmer and restaurant owner in the Mississippi Delta, has done everything he could to keep the well his family relies on for water from freezing. But with temperatures forecast to drop into the single digits on Monday night, all he can do now is watch and wait.
“Where I am in the Delta, there are no trees so it’s just like wide-open tundra today,” he said. “It’s just the full brunt of the wind out there.”
In Austin, Diana Gomez said she and her boyfriend were about to go to sleep about 2 in the morning Monday when the lights in their apartment flickered off.
More than 12 hours later, their apartment building and much of the surrounding neighborhood were still without power. Ms. Gomez said that she and her boyfriend worried about what would happen after nightfall, when the apartment darkened and the temperatures continued to plunge.
“I’ve never gone through a situation like this before,” Ms. Gomez, 31, said as the temperature in her apartment hung around 55 degrees. “I feel very frustrated. I feel very confused. And cold.”
David Montgomery reported from Austin, Texas, Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh, Clifford Krauss from Houston, and Marie Fazio from Jacksonville, Fla. Reporting was contributed by Ivan Penn from Los Angeles, Rick Rojas from Nashville, Winnie Hu and John Schwartz from New York, Sarah Fowler from Ridgeland, Miss., and Allyson Waller from Conroe, Texas.