‘Guardian angel’ pastor arrives just in time to wake up Dallas woman in her freezing home
When the temperature dropped in her Dallas home, Carol Uberbacher gathered stacks of blankets and packed them in three layers of clothing.
She made a makeshift bed in her living room. With no firewood, she burned pieces of cardboard in the fireplace and shivered under every blanket in her house.
But on Tuesday morning the cold got too much.
Uberbacher was among the 4 million Texans who lost electricity this week when the state’s power grid went down after two winter storms.
Your stories emerge. Families seeking refuge in buses. Hotels fully booked. People who sleep in their cars.
“It was terrifying,” said Uberbacher, 76, Friday morning. “But I know I was one of the lucky ones.”
When her friends couldn’t reach her by phone on Tuesday morning, they discussed their options. Driving to her home would be difficult as many roads are still impassable.
“It felt like this was happening on another planet instead of a few miles away,” said MarySue Foster, a longtime friend who lives in Plano. “We felt helpless.”
So they started working on the phones.
Pastor Bobbyray Williams worked on his Sunday sermon at the Living Word Missionary Baptist Church, just a tenth of a mile from Uberbacher’s home on Shelburne Drive in Riverway Estates / Bruton Terrace near the Mesquite border.
Williams, who lives in Waxahachie, had considered staying home on Tuesday. His typical 30-minute commute took more than an hour as he moved forward on snow and ice.
Instead, he sat at his desk just before 10 a.m. answering a desperate call from Foster, trying to find someone to check on her friend before the police arrived.
“I was so happy that I practically yelled in his ear,” said Foster.
Williams grabbed his heavy coat and walked down the street to Uberbacher’s house. The pastor rang and knocked, but no one answered. He heard two dogs barking so he didn’t give up.
“That’s what I do,” he said. “Our church is here to serve the community.”
From left, Mary Sue Foster, Pastor Bobbyray Williams, Carol Uberbacher, Elizabeth Sutherland and Doug Taylor pose together for a portrait at their Dallas home on Sunday, February 21, 2021. Uberbacher lost power in her home after the winter storm hit Uri Dallas last Sunday, and Pastor Williams woke her up from a chilled reaction after a Foster failed to contact her. Then Sutherland and Taylor took her home. (Lola Gomez / The Dallas Morning News)(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)
After a few minutes, a confused and disoriented Uberbacher opened the door.
“I’m pretty surprised that I woke up,” she said. “He really was my guardian angel.”
She had slept in the early stages of hypothermia all night and never fell asleep. By then, the power had gone out for about 24 hours, even though she doesn’t remember the temperature in her home.
“I was very in my head and in my spirit, thinking about my life and all the things that weren’t done,” said Uberbacher. “It was very scary, but it was also a time to do math for myself.”
Pantries and charities strive to bring groceries to Dallas residents in freezing conditions
Williams took her cell phone to recharge at his church and the police arrived and took her to their cruiser to warm up. When she felt that first blast of heat, she laughed.
“Oh, that’s warmth,” recalled Uberbacher. “This is what heat feels like.”
Friends who live in Oak Cliff came to pick her and her dogs Roxie and Magnolia Pie and stay with them for a few days.
Uberbacher returned home Thursday evening, a few hours after her power returned. She said she plans to volunteer at Williams’ church as soon as possible.
“It’s nice to be home,” said Uberbacher. “I’ve seen the news and I know this could very well have ended differently for me.”