A winter storm that no one could have predicted…and millions of families in Texas are without power after a winter storm that hit this week causing bitter cold and icy conditions. Much of the country is now experiencing affects of this same storm and The New York Times reports that an estimated nearly three million customers are now without power in Texas alone. The lack in power is now affecting the water treatment plants and many Texans are having to boil water under a recent “boil water notice” according to the BBC.
How did this happen? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power on the Texas Interconnection that supplies power to more than 25 million Texas customers – representing 90 percent of the state’s electric load. According to the Texas Tribune, “Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country’s power grid [its OWN grid], left the state alone to deal with the crisis”. In addition, homes in the state are also not insulated for cold weather, meaning indoor temperatures dropped to freezing after heat systems failed. This is NO FAULT of Texas residents.
We need to know how the utility companies and politicians affect our ever day life, but that is for another post. With that said, we won’t go into a blame game right now as families are SUFFERING and NEED help…NOW! So how can we help right now?
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Austin Mutual Aid is taking money raised to hotel rooms for residents living outside without water or shelter.
- Free Lunch is making and delivering home-cooked meals to residents of the Esperanza Community, a shelter complex in Austin. You can donate to them here.
- Front Steps is hosting its annual blanket drive. If you’re not in Texas or can’t make it to Front Steps’ location, you can order blankets online (Front Steps lists the best blankets to donate here) and ship them directly to them at 500 East 7th St., Austin, TX 78701.
- The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition has put together a list of organizations working to help unsheltered people in Austin and Travis County.
- The Coalition for the Homeless is engaged in street outreach in Houston, getting people to warming centers.
- The Houseless Organizing Coalition in Houston has put out a request to help buy socks, gloves and other essentials.
- The Austin Area Urban League is hosting an emergency donation drive.
- National aid organizations, including the Salvation Army, are providing assistance in areas devastated by the winter storms.
- The American Red Cross is seeking blood donations as well as monetary donations.
Our hearts and prayers go out to our fellow families in Texas. This was an avoidable tragedy and we pray for the safety and survival of our fellow Americans as well as hope that those responsible for this infrastructure failure are held accountable. Help a neighbor if you can, stay strong if you are affected. Help is on the way.