Texas endured sub-zero temps amid a lasting snowstorm that left millions of homes without power, heat or water this week.
Texas was hit with below freezing temperatures and a raging snowstorm that took out the power grid statewide on Monday, leaving millions of residents without heat for up to 72 hours, in some cases. Roads were and still are impassible, as Texas is not equipped with the resources to handle salting ice and clearing snow. Water lines then froze overnight Tuesday as the gravity of our situation set in.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) had originally planned for “rolling blackouts” across the state that would typically last under an hour, and in this case, maybe a few hours. Instead, millions of residents went without power or heat for days. The reason? The Texas power grid was only “seconds and minutes” away from catastrophic failure after power demand skyrocketed over the chilly weekend, which might have left Texans without power for months.
Updates were slow; by Wednesday, many still had no idea when the power would be restored, including ERCOT. Lines at the grocery stores that had power stretched down the icy streets, as Texans unaccustomed to and unequipped for the cold shivered beneath beach towels and sweatshirts. People froze to death or died by carbon monoxide poisoning, trying to heat their homes. And though power has now been restored to most Texas homes, there is still a boil water notice in effect; many residents had neither power nor water simultaneously at some point this week.
ERCOT operations have returned to normal, and we are no longer asking for energy conservation. Thanks for helping the grid during this very difficult time.
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 19, 2021
While ice and snow are finally melting across Austin on this 40-degree Friday, a series of cold nights await us still, dire conditions for those without power. A food shortage is also sweeping the state, leaving grocery stores and local marts ravaged after lines of freezing people came through this week for the essentials. Luckily, local Austin businesses are stepping up to the plate quite literally by giving away hundreds of free meals and potable water. Here’s where to get a hot meal, fill up your water container, get to a warming center, and help the homeless today. Make sure to check social media pages before visiting to ensure they’re still open!
⚠️ A city-wide boil water notice – issued by @AustinWater as a result of power loss and reduction of water pressure – remains in effect.
— City of Austin (@austintexasgov) February 18, 2021
Where to Find Free Water in Austin, Texas
Bring your own container to any of these breweries, groceries, and city centers, for a free potable drinking water refill today and through the weekend.
- Adelbert’s Brewery, 2314 Rutland Dr #100 – free water from 12 – 6 pm, beer to-go available to order, charging station
- Austin Beerworks, 3001 Industrial Terrace – free water, 12 – 5 pm Friday, 12 – 6 pm Saturday/Sunday
- Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches, 3220 Manor Rd – free water from 12 – 9 pm, beer to-go available to order
- The Brewtorium, 6015 Dillard Cir, Suite A – free water 11 am – 6 pm, charging & warming station, food & drink available to order
- Cedar Park City Hall, 450 Cypress Creek Rd, Building 3 & 4 – free water, 12 – 5 pm Friday, 8 am – 5 pm Saturday/Sunday, limit 20 gallons per group
- Cedar Park Recreation Center, 1435 Main St – free water, 12 – whenever they run out
- Central District Brewing, 417 Red River St – free water, 12 – 9 pm
- Circle Brewing Company, 2340 W Braker Ln – free water, 12 – 4:30 pm, beer to-go available to order, charging station
- Friends & Allies Brewing, 979 Springdale Rd – free water 2 – 5 pm
- Hopsquad Brewing Company, 2307 Kramer Ln – free water, 12 – 5 pm, limit 5 gallons per group, beer to-go available to order, onsite free food from Tsuke Honten
- Lazarus Brewing Company, 1902 E 6th St – free water, 9 am – 10 pm, food & drinks available to order
- Meanwhile Beer, 3901 Promontory Point Dr – free water, 10 am – whenever they run out, limit 10 gallons per group
- Natural Grocers, Multiple Locations – free water until Tuesday, February 23
- Pinthouse Pizza, Multiple Locations – free water until 8 pm, curbside service, beer & pizza to-go available to order
- Prep to Your Door, 507 Calles St, Suite 100 – free water, 10 am – 6 pm
- Rebel Cheese, 2200 Aldrich St, Suite 120 – free water, 11 am – 6 pm, food & drinks available to order
- Simply Rainwater at The Meteor, 2110 S Congress Ave & Gabriela’s, 900 E 7th St – free bottled water station
- St. Elmo Brewing Company, 440 E St Elmo Rd, G-2 – free water 12 – 5 pm, beer, wine & cider to-go available to order
- Whitestone Brewery, 601 E Whitestone Blvd #500 – free water, 12 – 7 pm
Where to Find Free Food in Austin, Texas
Restaurants, coffee shops, and delis have put their best foot forward to give the people of Austin desperately needed food. Out of the goodness of their hearts, these places aren’t charging, but if you can pay, make sure to tip them for their work!
- Revival Coffee, 1405 E 7th St – 500 free meals from Frida Friday, 2 pm – whenever they run out
- Central Machine Works, 4824 E Cesar Chavez St – free chili, soup, pizza, bread, and more, Saturday, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Moody’s, 2530 Guadalupe St – 300 burgers for UT students, Saturday, 1 pm – whenever they run out
- JP’s Pancake Company, 2512 Rio Grande St – 300 free meals, Saturday, 1:30 pm – whenever they run out
- Plow Burger at Buzz Mill Coffee, 1505 Town Creek Dr – 200 free burgers Saturday, 2 pm – whenever they run out
- The Cavalier, 2400 Webberville Rd, Suite A – 100 free biscuits & gravy, Saturday, 3 pm – whenever they run out
- Burro Grilled Cheese Kitchen, 80 Rainey St – 200 free grilled cheese sandwiches, Saturday, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Ranch Rider Spirits, 640 Tillery St – free BBQ & booze, Saturday 1 – 3 pm
- The Vegan Yacht, 2000 Southern Oaks Dr – 300 free vegan meals, Saturday, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Luv Thai Cuisine, 5207 Brodie Ln – 300 free meals, Saturday, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Cisco’s, 1511 E 6th St – free Tex-Mex, Saturday, 11 am – whenever they run out
- Chilantro, 6301 W Parmer Ln #204 & 11005 Burnet Rd #108 – combined 700 free bowls, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Buenos Aires Cafe, 1201 E 6th St – 200 free meals, Saturday, 11 am – whenever they run out
- Tacodeli, 12001 Burnet Rd – 300 free tacos, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Old Thousand, 4805 Burnet Rd & 1000 East 11th St – combined 200 free meals, 2 pm – whenever they run out
- La Pera at East Austin Culinary Studio, 2100 Robert Browning St – 200 free taco meals, 3 pm – whenever they run out
- Schlotsky’s Northcross, 2545 W Anderson Ln – 300 free sandwiches, 11 am – whenever they run out
- Twin Lion, 4815 W Braker Ln, Suite 510 – 200 free meals, 12 pm – whenever they run out
- Thai Fresh, 909 W Mary St – 50 free meals, 11 am – whenever they run out
- China Harbor – 801 E William Cannon Dr – 300 free meals, 1 pm – whenever they run out
- Phonatic, Multiple Locations – 400 free meals, 2 pm – whenever they run out
- New Fortune Chinese, 10901 N Lamar Blvd – free meal, 5 pm – whenever they run out
- Honest Mary’s, 9828 Great Hills Trail, Suite 300 – free bowls, Saturday 11 am – 3 pm
- Try Hard Coffee, 1115 E 11th St – free tacos, coffee, water, Saturday, 9 am – 2 pm
- Torchy’s Tacos, 5119 Burnet Rd – 200 free tacos, 10 am – whenever they run out
- Whole Foods Grocery Stores, Multiple Locations – combined 20,000 free meals, 9 am – 9 pm
- El Taquito, 20007 Farm to Market 685 – 400 free tacos, Saturday, 7:30 am – whenever they run out
- Bennu Coffee, Multiple Locations – 200 free tacos & coffee, Saturday, 7 am – whenever they run out
- Drink Bandit, 706 N Lamar Blvd – free coffee, Saturday, 8 am – whenever they run out
- El Tacorrido, 2316 South 1st St – free tacos, Saturday & Sunday, 11 am – whenever they run out
- Oakmont Food Company, 1106 W 38th St – 150 free meals, Saturday, 11 am – whenever they run out
- Nearby Coffee Company, 16921 Joe Barbee Dr B – free coffee, Saturday 7:30 am – 2 pm
- Mozart’s Coffee, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd – free water, coffee, dessert, tacos and more available to order, Saturday 9 am – 7 pm
- Brooklyn Breakfast, 7800 S 1st St – free breakfast, Saturday, 10 am – whenever they run out
- Juan in a Million, 2300 E Cesar Chavez – 200 free tacos, walk-ins only
- Via 313, 600 W 6th St – 150 free pizzas, Saturday 11 am – whenever they run out
Where to Find a Warming Center in Austin, Texas
These schools, churches, and shelters across the city are acting as warming stations, where you can warm up and charge your phone. Palmer Events Center was used as the primary shelter in Austin, but is at full capacity. Below are warming stations currently open in Austin.
- Austin Stone, 1150 McNeil Rd – overnight
- Barrington Elementary School, 400 Cooper Dr – 9 am – 9 pm
- Del Valle High School, 5201 Ross Road – overnight
- Friendship Creekside, 14455 FM 1826 – overnight, pet accommodations (must be crated)
- Georgetown Rec Center, 1003 N Austin Ave – overnight
- Hill Country Bible Church, 12124 Ranch Road 620 N – pet accommodations (must be crated)
- Joslin Elementary School , 4500 Menchaca Rd – 9 am – 9 pm
- Lee Elementary School, 3308 Hampton Rd – 9 am – 9 pm
- Mendez Middle School, 5106 Village Square – overnight
- Mosaic Church, 12116 Jekel Circle – overnight
- Murchison Middle School, 3700 N Hills Dr – 9 am – 9 pm
- Point Community Church, 11300 Old San Antonio Rd – overnight
- Reilly Elementary School, 405 Denson – overnight
- Round Rock Baca Center, 301 W Bagdad Ave #2 – overnight
- University Ave Church of Christ, 1903 University Ave – pet accommodations (must be crated)
How to Help the Homeless in Austin, Texas
Homeless people are at the greatest risk during this winter storm, and the cold streak isn’t over yet. Here’s where to donate to help Austin’s homeless population right now.
- ATX Free Fridge Project – food donations, hand warmers needed
- Austin Mutual Aid – 24-hour command center needed, they run a GoFundMe to buy hotel rooms for homeless people
- Caritas of Austin – PPE kits, toiletries, rideshare gift cards, bottled water, disinfectant spray, pantry items, and household items needed
- Casa Marianella – backpacks and suitcases, new underwear, shoes, kitchen items, bicycles, furniture, clothing, linens, and more needed. Casa Marianella specifically aids immigrants. Email firstname.lastname@example.org before donating.
- Foundation for the Homeless – twin and queen bedding sets, pillows, cleaning supplies, soap, bathroom towels, and more needed. Items can also be ordered and delivered using Amazon. Ship to Foundation for the Homeless, 8505 Cross Park Dr, Ste 120, Austin, TX 78754.
- Front Steps – monetary, blankets needed
- Street Youth Ministry – hats & gloves, shoes, cleaning supplies, camping equipment, working tablets and cell phones, belts, shoes, toiletries, underwear, and pantry items needed
- Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center – beanies, gloves, hand warmers, and other items needed
- The Other Ones Foundation – masks, AA/AAA batteries, tents, sleeping bags, and more needed. Email email@example.com to set up a time to drop off your donations.
Featured Image Credit: Brandon Green @Immersed via Instagram