Severe winter storm weather brought frigid, arctic temperatures to Texans, as well as residents of Oklahoma and Louisiana, creating power outages, food shortages, and loss of water supply. However, the situation in Texas is dire because the state operates on a completely different power grid system than the majority of states on the west, midwest and east coast.
Residents across the state brace themselves as additional winter advisories roll out. As of Friday, around 12 million people were under boil water notices according to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality said. Over 196,000 utility customers were still suffering from outages, according to poweroutage.us, significantly down from 4 million at the start of the severe weather.
The storm has especially crippled Black and brown communities in Texas. Due to systemic oppression and years of neglect community members are unable to access resources as local and state budgets divest away from community care and the restoration of decaying infrastructures.
The fallout from the unprecedented storms is multi-layered and should be examined from a variety of perspectives: race, politics and environmental justice.
Texans are using social media to advocate for relief by posting footage of the dire circumstances which include flooded homes, property damage, persons warming themselves by burning their items or shuttering inside of their cars for electricity and warmth. Photos of long grocery and gas lines evoke images of depression-era circumstances.
As is standard in Black communities, residents are taking matters into their own hands, scheduling food drop offs, drop-ins, gathering warming and PPE supplies while relying on community centers and churches for food and shelter.
What is being done on a federal level?:
On Feb. 14, President Biden authorized FEMA to deliver emergency aid to the state. FEMA is reportedly providing 60 generators and fuel for hospitals and nursing homes. Texans received 729,000 liters of water, over 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals, according to Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.
During a Thursday press briefing, White House Press Secretary said the administration is actively monitoring the conditions in Texas and that President Biden has authorized federal officials to “make rapid decisions and be responsive to the needs of the states as they come up.”
Biden also declared disaster relief declarations for Oklahoma and Louisiana.
What is the state providing?:
State officials recommend that individuals who have access to shelter and warmth limit their power usage of large appliances like washer machines and ovens, as well as setting their thermostats below 68 degrees. Officials also discourage travel on the roads with icy conditions. Basically, if you are able to stay inside, please do so.
Texans can find more details about community resources and warming centers in their area by calling 877-541-7905 or 211, the state’s free 24-hour helpline, or by visiting the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s website.
For disabled persons, the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies lists resources and information. The organization can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the 24/7 disability and disaster hotline at 800-626-4959.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley also shared a variety of on the ground organizations who are looking for resources/aid.
A variety of mutual aid organizations are offering assistance and can be researched by visiting their websites or social media accounts. Those organizations include: Mutual Aid Houston, Austin Mutual Aid, Feed the People Dallas, and Para Mi Gente in San Antonio.
The Texas Tribune listed a variety of resources for residents in the state, broken up by the major cities/metropolitan areas.
The New York Times also listed resources for aid in Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Some on the ground accounts to follow:
If you decide to donate to a charity:
Black celebs who have stepped up:
There are many famous Texans who have donated their time and resources to help residents of their home state.
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