Power failures, burst water pipes, carbon monoxide poisoning, car crashes, drownings, house fires and hypothermia: look anywhere and you see that Texas is a deadly mess this week. But tragic stories and political failures are not the only story. Amazing grace, generosity, and goodness also deserve recognition.
The H-E-B grocery store in Leander, Texas lost power but stands as a bright shining example, Here’s part of the viral Facebook post that told its story:
“Halfway through our shopping the stores power went out. It was still light out as it was only about 3:30pm. We kept shopping as hundreds of other people were too. I told Deb let’s hurry in case they tell us we must stop shopping and check out right away. We were picking up some milk and other items for other family members too and wanted to be sure we got everything we went there for….
“We got to the checkout woman and she asked: “Do you have any alcohol?” I said: “No, but if you are giving out drinks, I could use one about now”
“She then said: “Please go ahead but we can’t bag anything up for you.” At first, Deb and I were a bit confused and I asked: “How or who do we pay for our groceries?” We probably had a couple of hundred dollars worth of groceries. She said: “Just go ahead and be safe driving home.” Then we noticed the lines of people after the checkout stands proceeding with full carts of groceries all being directed out the store with many employees there to greet us on our way out….
” I salute H.E.B. for the kindness they showed us, the thoughtfulness they showed us, the generosity they showed us, and the caring that they showed us (along with the other hundreds of fellow Texans in the store at that time).”
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a frequent target of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott. Though she’s from New York, AOC showed up for Texas, launching a relief effort, quickly raising $3.2 million for 12 Texas food banks and relief organizations. Then she went to Houston and volunteered in a food bank.
Beto O’Rourke ran against Ted Cruz in 2018 and then tried for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. He mobilized his social media presence and lists of supporters to mount a virtual phone bank checking on Texas senior citizens. They made more than 780,000 phone calls by the end of the week, connecting seniors to food and shelter and other needed resources.
On the other hand, we have Texas Senator Ted Cruz flying off to Cancún, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott blaming the Green New Deal—which is a proposal and not law in Texas or anywhere. Perhaps the worst example of uncaring comes from Colorado City, Texas Mayor Tim Boyd, who wrote on Facebook:
“No one owes you are [sic] your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice! The City and County, along with the power providers or any other public service owes you NOTHING! … Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic].”
He resigned after this nasty and wrongheaded post was met with a storm of public outrage.
Government exists to help people. President Biden knows that. He mobilized emergency aid, including shipments of generators, blankets, water and other supplies. He issued a major disaster declaration that makes available “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” as well as aid to local government offices. President Biden said he will visit Texas, but only when the necessary precautions surrounding a visit will not create a burden on the state.
The Texas Tribune does a great job of covering Texas year-around. They detailed political failures the led to this disaster, including the lack of response after the 2011 winter storms that also triggered power outages across the state.
Those political/structural failures must be addressed, but Texans will have to do that. If you want to send help to people in need right now, the Texas Tribune offers this list of places to contribute:
• “Feeding Texas is taking donations here.
• “You can donate to the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies here.
• “Mutual Aid Houston, Austin Mutual Aid, Feed the People Dallas, Para Mi Gente in San Antonio and many other local groups are all seeking donation
• “The Way Home, a coalition of organizations in the Houston area working to prevent homelessness, is asking for donations here
• “You can find a list of organizations seeking donations in the Dallas area here.
• “Various organizations in Austin are accepting donations to help people who need resources to help the homeless or those in need of resources. The Austin Area Urban League is organizing an emergency drive here and Front Steps, a nonprofit that offers resources to the homeless, is asking for blanket donations here
• “The Rio Grande Valley food bank has also launched a winter storm assistance campaign and anyone who wants to help can make a donation here.”