Help still needed in Austin community as power, water returns

The power is on and the water is back for most people in Austin, but there is still help needed throughout the community. 

"It has been a nonstop grind here, but we know the impact of this winter storm is going to be felt for weeks," said Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, District 2.

"I don't want people to think the weather is changing and we're out of this, because we're not. There are the short-term immediate needs, then there's this mid-range area of needs and then there's the long-term impact," said Quincy Dunlap, President and CEO of the Austin Area Urban League.

Some of the short-term needs were met by a pop-up distribution site at Mendez Middle School in Southeast Austin on Monday.



"Hunger relief is the greatest need. This is a humanitarian crisis. Every site that we’ve stood up, people are standing in line hours before it starts wanting a box of food and wanting a case of water," said Fuentes, who helped pass out food and water at Mendez Middle School Monday. 

City leaders said they realized early on they couldn't wait for help from higher-ups.  

"The state government or federal government has not moved fast enough to meet the needs of our community, to meet the scale of this disaster," Fuentes said.  

In fact, much of the relief in Austin this week has come from local nonprofits, businesses, and neighbors

"I have been overwhelmed with the way the community has really rallied and mobilized. I mean, it’s just been incredible and that’s what it’s all about, community helping the community," said Fuentes. 

"Everybody can do something. You may not have $10 to give, you may have a brand new pair of gloves somewhere. That's just as important as your ability to give $5," Dunlap said.  

Local nonprofits said hardships will continue even after the water and power is back. 

After all, families lost paychecks had to throw out spoiled food or dealt with burst pipes and water leaks. 

Thanks to the Austin community, they won't have to face it alone. 

"We're here still serving and the service is ongoing. So we'll be taking donations as long as people have a need," said Dunlap. 

For a list of organizations helping in Austin visit here

Local leaders, like Fuentes, are also posting volunteer opportunities on social media as they pop up.