Alpine Grad Student's Life At Risk During Power Outages - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Alpine Grad Student's Life At Risk During Power Outages

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

ALPINE - While many aren't quick to step outside during this winter weather, for one Alpine woman, this task is life-threatening. That's because she suffers from a skin disease triggered by the cold.

Out of thousands of residents who experienced power outages in Brewster County over the weekend, one Sul Ross graduate student depends on electricity to stay healthy. She suffers from Cold Urticharia. In order for her to live, she has to stay warm.

"I was wrapped up in blankets, trying to find places where I can go and stay warm. It was not pleasant at all," Melissa Wallace said.

When the temperatures drop, Wallace is gathering her meds and anything and everything that can keep her warm.

"Whether it's a heated blanket, a hot shower, anything that's extremely hot, I have to get to. I can even boil water and put my hand in it and I'll feel so much better," Wallace said.

When Wallace is exposed to the cold, she breaks out in hives and even swells up. Sometimes, she's unable to move.

This past weekend, Wallace was no exception to the thousands without power in Brewster County.

"We had no heat. The hot water wasn't even working because of how frozen everything was," Wallace said.

Her power was out all of Saturday and restored later that night with the occasional flickering on Sunday. During the outage, Wallace experienced severe breakouts. All that's left are scars.

She says, if it wasn't for her sister by her side, this incurable disease would take a much bigger toll.

"She's the one who's trying to make sure I'm warm. She's the one trying to make sure I have heat. She's the one making sure I'm still alive, I have my EpiPen, I have my inhaler. I couldn't ask for a better sister," Wallace said.

Thankfully, most of the power has been restored in Brewster County.

The Terlingua area is expected to be back to normal by Tuesday evening.

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