How To Help People In The Aftermath of Austin's Winter Storm – And How To Find Help If You Need It
Hundreds of thousands of Austin residents faced power outages, extreme cold and water outages following one of the worst winter storms on record to hit Central Texas. Here's how to help — and get help — in the Austin area:
How to help
One of the most important things you can do is check on your neighbors and people you know who may be especially vulnerable to the extreme cold. Do they have water? Do they have a way to keep warm at night? Do they have enough food?
Another major way you can help is to conserve water to ease the demand on the city's supply, by limiting washing clothes or running the dishwasher.
If you're looking to help people experiencing homelessness, Austin ECHO has a list of options available, including donating winter care kits and hygiene items. You can also buy and send blankets to those in need through Front Steps. ECHO is also looking for volunteers to make water deliveries to low-income households.
The Austin Area Urban League, which supports underserved groups and people of color, launched an emergency donation drive called the #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign and is seeking monetary donations. More than $1.2 million has been raised so far.
How to get help
While Palmer Events Center at 900 Barton Springs Rd. in South Austin has been at full capacity recently, there are other shelter options still open as of Saturday. If you need transportation to the shelters or more information about the warming centers, call 311 or 512-305-ICEE (4233). If you can volunteer at a shelter, the city asks that you fill out and submit this form.
Note: Shelter information is changing daily, please check back for updates. There are additional shelter options available from the city:
- Del Valle High School, 5201 Ross Rd., Del Valle
- Mendez Middle School, 5106 Village Square Dr., Southeast Austin
- Reilly Elementary, 405 Denson Dr., Central Austin (replaces Webb Middle School as a shelter)
The Austin Disaster Relief Network also has a list of seven churches that are open as 24-hour shelters in the area:
- The Austin Stone, 1150 McNeil Rd., Round Rock
- Point Community Church (Pet accommodations – must be crated), 11300 Old San Antonio Road, Manchaca
- Mosaic Church (No pet accommodations), 12675 Research Blvd., Northwest Austin
- Friendship Creekside (Pet accommodations – must be crated), 14455 FM 1826, South Travis County
- Hill Country Bible Church (Pet accommodations – must be crated), 12124 Ranch Road 620 N., Northwest Austin
- University Ave Church of Christ (Pet accommodations – must be crated), 1903 University Ave., Central Austin
- Hope Chapel (Pet accommodations – must be crated), 1508 Ruth Ave., Central Austin
Are you looking for a shelter in Williamson County? Here's a list of options. For shelter options in Hays County, click here.
Those in need of food should call 211. The Central Texas Food Bank also has a map of where people can find food in the area now. Austin's nonemergency 311 line says it is dealing with an influx of calls and warned that callers may receive a busy signal. People can skip the call system by downloading the app and contacting 311 that way.
The National Weather Service shared several tips on how to stay warm when the power is out. Here's what you can do:
- Keep blinds or curtains closed to keep in some heat
- Close off rooms to avoid wasting heat
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight warm clothing
- Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors
- Eat and drink to stay warm (avoid caffeine and alcohol, NWS says)
And here are some tips from the Austin Code Department on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Don't heat your home with a gas oven
- Don't run a generator or use a grill indoors
- Don't run your car in an attached garage
- Get fresh air if you feel dizzy or nauseous
- Call 911 if you need medical attention
Do you know of a way to help that's not in this story? Email andy@KUT.org