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Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Community Mobilizes To Help Seniors Stuck Without Food And Water After A Nextdoor Post Gets Amplified

Snow covers a street.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
A winter storm last week blanketed streets with snow and ice.

Lee esta historia en español.

Residents of a Northeast Austin senior living community who had lost power, water and access to food were helped Sunday by “an army of angels” after a resident posted on social media.

Lisa, who has lived at the St. George’s Court apartment complex for 12 years, said some residents had tried to warm themselves by tea lights during the power outage.

“It was pretty scary," Lisa said. She worried about the residents who needed oxygen treatment and other medical equipment that required electricity to help them breathe.

St. George's Court Apartments, a community for senior and disabled residents in North Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Residents of the St. George's Court Apartments, a community for senior and disabled residents in North Austin, lost power and water during last week's extreme weather.

Although power returned, the 60-unit complex still didn’t have water as of Sunday morning, and the 68 residents were also running out of food. Lisa said the community relies on groceries delivered by places like H-E-B and Walmart, but those deliveries were canceled.

"So I prayed about it at 4 o'clock in the morning," Lisa said. "I said, 'God there's such a need, what can I do?'"

She decided to post on the social-networking site Nextdoor, letting neighbors know there was a senior community in need.

Her post caught the eye of the Branston Cyphers, the president of the Coronado Hills and Creekside neighborhood association, which encompasses the senior complex. He reached out to Lisa and visited the complex.

“They all didn’t have any water,” Cyphers said. “They couldn’t boil water because a lot of them were in wheelchairs … [or] walkers. They can’t drive. They’re immobile. A lot of them couldn’t even lift water out of their car even if they were to go get it.”

Cyphers went to a water distribution event by Powered By People, an organization founded by former Congressman Beto O'Rourke that coordinates volunteer efforts in Texas. Cyphers said the group got more than 20 volunteers to deliver cases of water door to door to the residents.

Churches and other residents responded to Cyphers' call for help on Nextdoor and Facebook, delivering canned foods, hot meals and fresh groceries.

By late Sunday morning, Lisa said, there was an “army of angels” dropping off supplies at her apartment, which was used as a staging area. Cyphers visited each unit, asking residents what they needed.

Volunteers brought more than 100 cases of water – far more than the 15 cases Lisa had hoped to get.

“It felt really good to see the community kind of step up and volunteers willingly show up and give up their time and resources to help out people that they don’t even know,” Cyphers said. “And that shows what really good people we got in this city. I’m really proud of this city.”

Cyphers said he was happy Lisa spoke up or the community wouldn’t have known to help. But Lisa called her role “insignificant.” She said she just wanted people to know that there were real people who needed help.

Lisa said she’s exhausted, but happy no resident went to bed thirsty.

In the end, she said, it was just “neighbors helping neighbors.”

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