Texas has declared (opens in new tab) a state of emergency.
Amid a fierce storm raging across the United States, 21 people nationwide have died (opens in new tab), millions of Texans are without power, zoo animals are freezing to death (opens in new tab), and Colorado City's mayor just resigned (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), and outages have caused millions of Texans to go without power or heat (opens in new tab) for days on end. In light of this, President Biden ordered (opens in new tab) 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.
Nonprofit organization Front Steps (opens in new tab) is collecting warm blankets at its downtown Austin location at 500 E. Seventh St (opens in new tab). You can even order a blanket online and have it shipped there.
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). They range from HotHands warmers to underwear and thick socks.
- Consider buying something from the Sunrise Navigation's Amazon wish list (opens in new tab) that The Texas Tribune (opens in new tab) recommends.Donate Money
One of the most effective ways to help others is to put your money where your mouth is.
Feeding Texas (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
Here are additional places to donate $$:
- Dallas' Our Calling (opens in new tab) manages the city's convention center shelter, so this is where Dallas Homeless Alliance President and CEO Carl Falconer recommends (opens in new tab) spending your $$.
- Maximize Hope (opens in new tab) is buying hotel rooms for people in the Austin area, and you can donate to its efforts here (opens in new tab).
In San Antonio, the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab):
Here are a few volunteer alternatives:
- Join the Texas Relief Warriors (opens in new tab), a nonprofit that helps communities in the wake of disasters. The group recently made headlines (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). Volunteer with Sea Turtle, Inc. (opens in new tab) to help and check the organization's Facebook page (opens in new tab) for the latest information on what they need.If you live in Texas, Stay Home and Conserve Electricity
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 (opens in new tab). Keeping your thermostat below 68 degrees and laying off the laundry can make a difference.
Drivers are also urged to stay home (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) and the Austin American-Statesman (opens in new tab) have rounded up additional resources (opens in new tab) for Texans in need (opens in new tab).
Alexandra Whittaker oversees all of Cosmo's news and entertainment digital coverage—follow her on Instagram (opens in new tab)here. As the lead of two teams, Alexandra manages stellar writers and editors who deliver your daily dose of celebrity, TV, movie, book, general entertainment and pop culture news. She's known for her strategic coverage calls and celebrity interviewing skills. Awards shows are her favorite thing, and she’s a proud Northwestern and Marquette alumna.
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