Texas has declared a state of emergency.
Amid a fierce storm raging across the United States, 21 people nationwide have died, millions of Texans are without power, zoo animals are freezing to death, and Colorado City's mayor just resigned after telling fearful residents "only the strong will survive."
Texas has had a uniquely difficult time weathering the storm. Bitterly cold temperatures, serious electricity grid problems, and outages have caused millions of Texans to go without power or heat for days on end. In light of this, President Biden ordered federal assistance and authorized the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to coordinate relief efforts.
People are suffering. Even if you are far outside the Lone Star state, there are still ways you can help.
The best blankets are big enough to cover an adult and are made of fleece or acrylic (not cotton or wool) because these materials don't soak up moisture. Check out Front Steps' site for specific recommendations.
Here are other supply donation options:
- Austin’s Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) has a list of cold weather donations they need right here. They range from HotHands warmers to underwear and thick socks.
- Consider buying something from the Sunrise Navigation's Amazon wish list that The Texas Tribune recommends.
One of the most effective ways to help others is to put your money where your mouth is.
Feeding Texas is a nonprofit working to feed millions even in non-disaster times, but it has mobilized around connecting donors with food banks especially in need right now. Click here to donate towards its efforts.
Here are additional places to donate $:
- Dallas' Our Calling manages the city's convention center shelter, so this is where Dallas Homeless Alliance President and CEO Carl Falconer recommends spending your $.
- Maximize Hope is buying hotel rooms for people in the Austin area, and you can donate to its efforts here.
In San Antonio, the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless is most in need of volunteers to work overnight shifts. They also need hot meals. If you live in the San Antonio area are are willing and able to contribute, read more about what they need here:
Here are a few volunteer alternatives:
- Join the Texas Relief Warriors, a nonprofit that helps communities in the wake of disasters. The group recently made headlines by cooking breakfast tacos for 800 people in need.
- Sea turtles in the South Padre Island area are being stunned by the cold water, and they're in need of rescue. Volunteer with Sea Turtle, Inc. to help and check the organization's Facebook page for the latest information on what they need.
If you live in Texas, Stay Home and Conserve Electricity
If you actually live in Texas or other impacted areas, consider reducing your power use if you're able to do so safely.
Many people are experiencing rotating power blackouts, and a cumulative reduction in energy use may help keep the power grid functioning, according to utilities and power companies. Keeping your thermostat below 68 degrees and laying off the laundry can make a difference.
Drivers are also urged to stay home because road crews are working to clear ice and snow.
For more information on how to help and what to do if you're being impacted by the storm yourself, The Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman have rounded up additional resources for Texans in need.