More than 200,000 Austin Energy customers are still without power as of Tuesday afternoon. The utility has said customers should be prepared for outages to continue through Tuesday night and into Wednesday. The high temperature in Austin is expected to be 29 degrees, and another winter storm is on the way. 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 power? Do they have a way to keep warm at night? Do they have enough food?
Another major way you can help is to conserve energy to ease the demand on the electric grid by doing things like:
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.
The Austin Area Urban League, which supports underserved groups and people of color, has launched an emergency donation drive called the #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign and is seeking monetary donations. Close to $100,000 has been raised so far.
How to get help and stay warm
The City of Austin has opened the Palmer Events Center at 900 Barton Springs Rd. in South Austin as a primary warming center for people seeking shelter. If you need transportation to the shelters or more information about the warming centers, call 512-305-ICEE (4233).
Two additional warming shelters are being opened Tuesday by the city:
Austin ISD has opened two of its campuses to serve as warming centers for families: Lee Elementary School in Central Austin and Murchison Middle School in West Austin — but the district says they are only open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Del Valle High School was previously included as a shelter but has since been removed.
Because of limited space at the shelters, the city asks that people who can safely shelter at home continue to do so and leave room for those who are vulnerable or have medical conditions.
If you are considering moving to a warming shelter, you can call 512-305-ICEE (4233) for information from the city. People who have COVID-19 should call 311 to get transportation to one of the city’s COVID isolation centers and not go to a warming center.
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 in Fort Worth shared several tips on how to stay warm when the power is out. Here’s what you can do:
Do you know of a way to help that’s not in this story? Email andy@KUT.org
This content was originally published here.