Experiencing Impacts of a Harsh Winter Storm Firsthand

By Linda Papayanopulus, Community Engagement Coordinator – WestCare Texas

Texas faced record-low temperatures during a harsh winter storm this February, leaving millions without heat or water — a life-threatening situation in a state unaccustomed to and unprepared for the extreme cold. Although the unprecedented weather was shared by millions left shivering in their own homes, the suffering was not equally distributed.

While many people faced dire situations without the most basic of needs, some left their homes in search of warmth and water and others shared circuits with critical facilities like hospitals that had electricity.

Luckily for us at WestCare, our leader and Vice President, Beverly Watts Davis, immediately began checking on WestCare staff and following up with them for days to make sure that they were all right. At one point, she was not able to reach me because my cell phone battery had died leaving me with no way to charge it. Although snow and ice made most roads impassable, she was able to have a staff member who lived nearby to come to my home to check on me. With Beverly’s help, we were able to check into a motel where we could stay safe and warm until the electricity to our homes could be restored.

Without water and after days of power outages, many Texans had lost perishable food and were struggling to get more. Many grocery stores had been picked clean or closed while food banks were trying to hand out food as quickly as they could. Most restaurants and fast food businesses were closed due to power outages or having run out of food, leaving us at the motel without access to food. Once again, a WestCare staff member responded quickly and brought us some homemade soup to sustain us for a couple of days.

Then, as power began to be restored, millions more Texans discovered that their taps had run dry, pipes had burst or water treatment plants had failed and that they had to boil their water before using it. By then, WestCare Texas staff members were able to turn their focus back to the needs of the community and joined forces with Bexar County Commissioner, Tommy Calvert and other organizations that were on the ground helping people obtain food and water and transporting the most vulnerable people from our community to warming centers.

Even during times of personal crisis, our WestCare Texas staff truly personify WestCare’s motto of Uplifting the Human Spirit by making every effort to help people heal.

By WestCare

We're a family of nonprofit organizations providing a wide spectrum of health and human services across the United States, 3 U.S. territories, and 2 Republics.

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