Winter Storm Update: Feb. 22

Sunday was a balmy 71 degrees, and temperatures have warmed enough to make significant inroads at addressing the damage done from the sub-zero temperatures.

You can find information on filing for FEMA aid and more in our ongoing coverage of the storm, which can be found here.

Here are today’s bullet points:

  • Local domestic violence shelters continue to need assistance;
  • Genesis Women’s Shelter gets aid from royal source;
  • Dallas sets up bulk water stations;
  • Abbott, state leaders move to temporarily halt utility bills.
Local domestic violence shelters continue to need assistance

As we reported last week, both The Family Place and Genesis Women’s Shelter suffered damages from broken water pipes due to the storm.

Mosaic Family Services now adds its name to the list of domestic violence shelters damaged by the storm.

Volunteer coordinator Katie Jenkins said Monday that not only was the shelter damaged, but clients in transitional housing and nonresidential clients also suffered damage to their homes, as well as spoiled food from the power outage.

“Mosaic is stepping in to help our survivors find resources, and we are helping them with groceries and supplies as needed,” she said.

Jenkins credits shelter director Nancy Rocha with making sure that shelter residents were safe and warm throughout the storm.

“Our quick-thinking shelter director, Nancy, trusted her gut and decided to move our shelter residents from Mosaic House to safe and secure hotels Friday, anticipating the storm,” she said. “We are so thankful that Nancy made this call and that our survivors did not endure further trauma from power outages and the bitter cold.”

The organization also had a staff member stay with the residents at the hotels to make sure they had what they needed.

Needless to say, the hotel stays are expensive, and the repairs will be too.

“Many of our clients are rebuilding their lives and therefore live paycheck to paycheck,” Jenkins added. “When disaster strikes, they turn to Mosaic, whether for assistance with housing, groceries, counseling, or simply needing a friend. We don’t want to turn away any survivor in need of assistance to make it through this crisis.”

During the power outage, the first floor of the shelter flooded after a pipe burst. A plumber was able to come relatively quickly, Jenkins said, and they’re assessing the extent of the damage now.

But it also means that the shelter residents will remain in those expensive hotels for at least one more week.

“Although this situation is critical, we are so thankful that our shelter residents were safe at hotels when the storm came through and that they have had power and heat this entire week,” Jenkins said. “For survivors of family violence and human trafficking, crises like this storm can be triggering and resurface memories of past trauma, so we are incredibly thankful that our residents were in a safe and secure location when the storm hit.

“Although this week has been chaotic and the storm was unprecedented, Mosaic clients have taught us about resilience, and we will continue to work on their behalf, rain, snow, or shine.”

Genesis Women’s Shelter gets aid from royal source

Genesis Women’s Shelter, however, got better news this weekend – they’re getting a royally new roof.

The  Duke and Duchess of Sussex, otherwise known as Prince Harry and Megan Markle, approached the shelter through their nonprofit, Archewell Foundation. The foundation will pay for a new roof, as well as some immediate needs.

Dallas sets up bulk water stations

Starting Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Dallas residents will be able to come to any of the City of Dallas-run Park and Recreation warming stations to fill water containers up to 15 gallons per visit. Residents are requested to bring their own containers, but no ID is required.

Local stations include the Churchill, Marcus, and Walnut Hill recreation centers.

Abbott, state leaders move to temporarily halt utility bills

Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday held an emergency meeting with lawmakers to discuss the sharp increase of electricity bills after last week’s winter storm. Following that meeting, the Public Utility Commission met to sign orders directing energy providers to temporarily stop disconnecting water and power customers who have not paid their bills, and to also stop companies from sending bills to customers until the agency (and the state) can get a better handle on how to help customers pay for the outsized bills.

“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” said Abbott. “Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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