Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
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.

East Texas Shelter Houses 200 People During Winter Storm

a man standing with a food tray at a homeless shelter
Courtesy Hiway 80 Rescue Mission
The Hiway 80 Rescue Mission in 2015.

From Texas Standard:

People experiencing homelessness face grave danger from this week’s storm that’s brought bitterly cold temperatures to most parts of Texas.

Brian Livingston is executive director of Hiway 80 Rescue Mission serving Tyler and Longview in Northeast Texas. He told Texas Standard that the mission is housing about 200 people right now in facilities that still have power and water.

“It’s crowded, but it’s going pretty well,” he said.

Staff spent the weekend trying to find people and urge them to come to the shelter ahead of the storm. They had to stop once the storm set in because it was too dangerous to be outside.

“Obviously, we can’t force them, but we’re trying to make sure they knew about the dangers and and that they had a place to go,” Livingston said.

On top of the cold, Livingston has had to take precautions because of the pandemic. Staff is checking people’s temperatures when they enter the shelter, they’re practicing social distancing and they have a quarantine space for anyone who is sick.

He says the shelter has about two weeks of supplies and food if needed, though the storm and cold is expected to subside later this week. And local residents have helped get the shelter the supplies it needed, he says. They donated coats and blankets “within hours” of putting out the request to the community.

“We’re overloaded now,” Livingston said. “Really, the community has just responded every time we’ve had a need and it just put it out there. The response has been overwhelming.”

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.

Michael Marks
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
Related Content