Here's how to get help for yourself or others during Texas' historic freeze
Editor's note: The Statesman is making this story about Austin winter weather free for everyone to read as a public service. If you don't already, please subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribenow.
Freezing temperatures, historic snowfall and icy, dangerous driving conditions. As Texas continues to experience fallout from an unprecedented freeze, you may be looking for ways to help see your fellow community members safely through.
Below we've rounded up some things you can do to help (even from the safety of your own home), and some resources if you or someone you know is looking for food, shelter or other assistance.
If you're safe, comfortable and looking for ways to help in coming days, consider these causes:
- The Austin Area Urban League has launched an emergency donation drive, called the #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign, to help house, feed and care for those in need of resources or experiencing homelessness during the unprecedented weather conditions.
- If you want to donate a warm blanket to someone who could benefit from one in Austin this week, nonprofit Front Steps is accepting blankets at their downtown location, or you can order the blanket online and have it shipped directly to the shelter.
- You can help make sure those experiencing homelessness have access to a home-cooked meal by donating to Austin's Free Lunch program. Free Lunch is a business that cooks and delivers meals four days a week to the Esperanza Community, a state-created campsite off of U.S. 183 near Montopolis Drive. Free Lunch successfully delivered soup to residents Sunday.
- Help Austin's shelter animals stay warm by donating items like blankets, towels, tarps, animal crates, space heaters, dog houses and dog beds to local shelter Austin Pets Alive. The shelter is also accepting donations to help purchase necessary items and volunteer assistance in picking up and distributing supplies.
If you are in need of food, water, shelter or other help, consider these resources:
- Austin360 continues to update this list with businesses in Austin and Central Texas that are providing free water to those who need it. There are also places that are accepting water donations listed.
- The Central Texas Food Bank announced it will remain closed Monday due to the weather. However, if you are in need of food in coming days you are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 or visit 211texas.org to get in touch with Texas Health and Human Services. The service should be able to connect those in need with a wide range of services, including food, shelter and mental health services.
- Austin360 is updating this list with local restaurants and businesses that are offering free meals. If you can safely access one, be sure to check social media or contact the restaurant beforehand to ensure supplies.
- If you are without a place to stay during this bout of extreme weather and at risk of exposure, call 512-305-ICEE to get the most up-to-date information about warming and cold weather shelters. You can also view this Texas-wide map showing warming shelters, but calling 2-1-1 beforehand to check available occupancy is encouraged.
Other Texas publications created and kept similar lists with additional helpful resources this week:
- Austin Eater has information on how to help feed people or causes to donate to that are doing just that.
- Texas Monthly is adding to a list of ways to help Texas residents clean up, repair and recover after a week of devastation.
- The Texas Tribune has various resources listed spanning across the state.
Throughout the week numerous community-sourced spreadsheets packed with resources have been passed around the community:
- A community-sourced website, austincold.com, offers up-to-date maps and resource lists in six different languages.
- Austin social worker Amanda Winter has updated this Google Doc with lists of free, hot meals, water distribution and tips for staying warm.
- Popular Austin event Instagram When Where What Austin continues to update a spreadsheet with free food and water options, as well as gas stations with available fuel and volunteer opportunities.
- Twitter user @dox_gay has a thorough index with resources divided by region.