As a native New Yorker, I am no stranger to winter storms. Although as a New Yorker who has been living in Texas for three years, snow isn't something Texans, along with the South are used to.
So let's break it down, why don't Texans have power?
In short terms, the power grid is owned and operated by ERCOT. ERCOT's systems were overloaded by the massive surge in power once temperatures began to drop. This happened because it got cold, people turned to their heaters to warm them up. Although, our houses are built to keep it cool, not keep it warm. So our houses simply were not maintaining warmth the way insulated houses do in Northern areas.
How are we coping?
We're not. As John Mulaney puts it, "Street Smarts," and well to us who have lived in real winters our entire lives, snow is common sense. It began snowing Sunday, February 14 and stopped Wednesday, February 17. As of tonight, February 17, our road still isn't plowed. People haven't cleaned their cars off, pipes are bursting. We're running out of food, stores are closed, the roads are still in hazardous conditions. People are freezing to death on the street.
On the other hand, there are people that believe that the snow cannot stop them. Thus, there has been a 133-car-pile up in Fort Worth. People are walking across frozen bodies of water, a dog even fell through and got hypothermia. The city of Petrolia is without water indefinitely because of the sub-zero temperatures.
Texans don't know to leave their faucets dripping, barricade doors and windows with blankets and towels, start their cars, not let pets out for prolonged periods of time, etc. But even if they did know to do this, there isn't power.
How do rotating outages work?
In theory, if there are four sections of a grid, sections one and two would go out for an hour, then get turned on. Once these get turned on, sections three and four would then go out. But as you imagined that's not what's going on. People have been experiencing outages for prolonged periods. A Windthorst, TX resident has been without power for 4 days with no end in sight. There is no relief either. Hotels are booked, or they don't accept pets. Power is out almost everywhere so there aren't warming stations.
What happens now?
As I write this, it is 17 degrees outside, according to the ONCOR Storm Center (ONCOR is an electric company that works directly with ERCOT) there are 404 customers without power, with an unknown restoration time. Assuming those 404 customers are an average family size is 3.15 persons, that is about 1,272 people without power, without heat, with no end in sight.