This week, freezing temperatures and massive snowfall beset swaths of the United States, including areas where such weather is uncharacteristic. Without the infrastructure in place for phenomena like these, said regions face tremendous danger. This particular episode sees Texas in the throes of a major crisis. Since Monday night, much of Texas—one of the only states with an independent energy grid—has gone without power. Millions of stateside homes continue to lack electricity and heat through the ongoing polar vortex.
In absence of due protection from the government agencies responsible for such matters, independent organizations work to keep the people of Texas safe in this time of need. Below are a few resources currently expending effort toward this challenge; some focus their energies on the unhoused, and further still on pets.
First, let’s start with this excellent and extensive roundup of resources provided on Twitter. Within, you’ll find links to warming stations, food banks, and more.
Hey y’all if you’re looking for a way to support folks in Texas here is a master doc with information on shelters and where to donate!! Please share!!https://t.co/Ok0WqtDaoj— m (@mary__retta) February 17, 2021
This article from Eater Austin also includes several Austin-specific resources to help feed people in need. (Some of these are listed in the breakouts below, as well.)
Local Mutual Aids
One simple and straightforward way to help those in need is by donating to local mutual aids. In spring 2020, civilian-run organizations like these helped keep their neighbors safe and fed amid the swelling COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few such examples and their corresponding Venmo accounts:
Shelters throughout Texas are doing their best to provide sanctuary for those in need. First, you can dial “211” to find the warming station nearest to you or search online here. You can find another complete list of warming stations here.
Additionally, Austin’s Solid Ground Ministry opened its doors to the unhoused this week; the latter website offers avenues for volunteer work and donation. Ditto that of the organization Our Calling, which funds a number of Dallas-Fort Worth-based shelters; San Antonio’s Haven for Hope as well.
Food, Water, and More
As is typical, the housing insecure are hit the hardest in times like these. The Austin Area Urban League is funneling donations to the region’s most in want of food, water, shelter, and the like. The Way Home is doing the same across Houston. If you have the capacity to donate material items like blankets, you can try Front Steps.
The Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services is a non-profit working with different child-serving organizations around the state, focusing on relief efforts to aid those caring for foster children.
It can prove especially difficult to care for animals in periods of extreme weather. The Austin-based pet shelter Austin Pets Alive! is working to provide shelter, comfort, and care for local pets. This institution has put a call out for additional resources, both concrete and monetary.
These are just a select few ways to help; The Texas Tribune has a longer list of resources that we recommend reviewing.