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Energy & Environment
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.

Black Leaders In Central Texas Are Providing Food, Supplies To Underserved Communities Impacted By The Storm

The Black Leaders Collective and other organizations distribute food and supplies at the former Sims Elementary School on Saturday.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
The Black Leaders Collective and other organizations distribute food and supplies at the former Sims Elementary School on Saturday.

Black-led organizations have been working to provide food, supplies and shelter to underserved communities in Central Texas throughout this week’s winter storm. Now, as temperatures rise and the snow melts, leaders are mobilizing efforts to help people most in need face the aftermath.

“The sun is finally shining, the snow is melting away, but the pain and impact of this devastation is still there,” Terry Mitchell of the Black Leaders Collective said during a press conference Friday. “Now more than ever it is clear how important community is in times of disaster here in Travis and Williamson County.”

Over the last week, thousands of Austinites have gone without electricity for days amid freezing temperatures, and now many are left with very little water pressure or no water at all. On top of that, Austin and many surrounding cities are under a boil-water notice. And the lack of electricity and icy roads has increased food insecurity issues, which were already on the rise amid COVID-19.

The impact was only amplified for people facing racial and socioeconomic barriers.

“Central Texas has a history of failing to provide critical resources needed to support underserved communities,” Chas Moore, founder of the Austin Justice Coalition and a member of the Collective, said in a press release. “However, politics aside, we know that individuals and families who are already faced with challenges need help, and they need it right now.”

The Black Leaders Collective, a coalition of nonprofit, business and local government leaders in Central Texas, has set up a community support fund to help house, feed and provide clean water to minority residents impacted by the storm.

The Collective is also working with the Red Cross to set up an emergency supply distribution center at the former Sims Elementary School, 1203 Springdale Road. People can stop by to pick up supplies, like nonperishable food items and water. The center will be operating Saturday through Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m.

The group is looking for donations of baby food and formula, diapers, blankets, nonperishable groceries, clean water, personal protective equipment, toiletries, medications and socks — all of which can be dropped off on site between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The organization has also teamed up with Black-owned restaurants to provide free meals to people in need as part of a new initiative called “Feeding the Village.” Starting Saturday at noon people can access free meals at Rolling Rooster, 3 Chicks Soul Food and Emojis in Austin and Gossip Shack in Pflugerville. The meals are first come, first serve, and one meal will be provided per person.

The Black Leaders Collective is looking for volunteers to help run the distribution center. The organization says to follow these directions to sign up:

  • Go to www.redcross.org/volunteer
  • On the main screen, scroll down to the link and words that says “Apply Now”
  • Complete the five steps to become a volunteer
    • Contact information
    • Terms and Agreements
    • Background Check
    • Then make sure you click through all of the links to verify/authorize background check.
      • Many people tend to get hung up on that piece.
    • Submit/Authorize background check.
  • Within a matter of minutes, the background check is complete.

Here are more organizations looking for donations to help underserved communities impacted by the winter storm:

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