5 Ways to Help People in Texas Right Now

published Feb 19, 2021
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Dallas, Texas \ USA 02-17-2021 A view of the Pump House and Filter Building from across White Rock Lake in Dallas Texas during the 2021 winter storm
Dallas, Texas \ USA 02-17-2021 A view of the Pump House and Filter Building from across White Rock Lake in Dallas Texas during the 2021 winter storm

People in the South are currently in dire need. After winter storm Uri threatened an already-fragile power system, over 4 million people in Texas alone have experienced the loss of vital resources, often in below-freezing temperatures. As the Houston Chronicle notes, people across the state have experienced rolling blackouts, a loss of power and/or electricity, and issues like frozen water pipes. President Joe Biden has already issued a state of emergency, and plenty of people are banding together to help neighbors, community members, and people most at risk.

And the issue isn’t specific to Texas alone. As Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, the co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, noted, Winter Storm Uri also threatened the lives and resources of people in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, among other states. You can learn more about the storm’s trajectory here — and if you live in an affected area and have the means to do so, reach out to community organizers to get involved and help your neighbors.

Whether you live in the South or somewhere else, there are ways to help. Apartment Therapy rounded up resources for donations — whether monetary or material — as well as other information to share with people who may need it. Here are five ways to help right now.

Donate to mutual aid groups.

No matter your limit — whether it’s one dollar or 50 — you can support Texans as they help one another find food, shelter, and other necessities. Mutual aid groups across the state are gathering donations via Venmo, GoFundMe, and other sources — be sure to check associated social media accounts to verify their handles and if they’re still accepting donations. This Twitter thread by @Caren_HS is a good place to start.

As of Thursday, Mutual Aid Houston asked supporters to direct their donations elsewhere, so the grassroots organization can distribute the money sent their way. The group’s GoFundMe now includes suggestions for other organizations and groups to support, such as the Houseless Organizing Coalition and Crowdsource Rescue.

Donate to nonprofits and other organizations.

There are plenty of organizations in Texas focused on different ways of helping those in need. As Vogue notes, Feeding Texas is supporting food banks across the state (donate here), and Austin-based organization Front Steps is accepting donations as part of their blanket drive (donate here). Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro is also raising funds for Feeding Texas through his organization, People First.

This thread by Twitter user @MaryBadThings also features local organizations to support.

Amplify resources.

If you have a social media account, you have a platform. Sharing infographics and resources like this Google doc might not seem like a lot of lift, but spreading the word can help that information travel to those in need much more quickly than not. Here’s a guide to keeping warm in freezing temperatures.

If you do repost graphics onto your Instagram or Twitter, be sure to fill out the alternate text fields describing what’s inside, fill out the caption with additional information, and credit the person who created the resource if you can. It’s also worth vetting your sources to make sure you’re sharing accurate information: Double-check statistics, statements from officials, and even Venmo handles for mutual aid organizations before sharing to your own accounts.

If you’re in affected areas, share your resources.

Plenty of Texans who still have power, water, and other basic resources are opening their doors to friends, family, and neighbors who don’t — but it’s still important to be mindful of how much power you’re using while you have it. The Austin Energy power company suggests that people turn off major appliances when they’re not in use, turning off all of your lights (except for one to serve as a tell for when power is back, the Austin American-Statesman notes), texting people when you can instead of calling to conserve battery, and huddling in one room to conserve heat.

Avoid bringing gas-powered generators inside, or sitting inside idling cars, which might lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. As Dr. Darien Sutton-Ramsey, an emergency medicine practitioner based in Los Angeles noted on Twitter, it’s good to bring a battery-operated carbon monoxide monitor into the car with you if you absolutely need to find warmth in your car.

Stay involved in the climate crisis fight.

The storm in Texas is not an isolated incident, nor will it be the last time people will need help due to a natural disaster. Call your lawmakers and hold them accountable to passing legislation that adequately combats the worsening climate crisis. You can use the 5 Calls website to identify your federal representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate — the site even gives you a suggested script to help you make your voice heard.

It’s also worth assessing ways to live a little greener yourself if you can. Whether it’s through a few simple swaps or a broader lifestyle change, you can help mitigate community risk in incremental ways. And as you’re going through your day-to-day habits, it’s worth putting together a go-bag on the off-chance you need it.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Ways to Help People in Texas Right Now, From Making Donations to Calling Your Representatives