The winter storm that blew through Austin and Central Texas two weeks ago left over 4 million people without power and thousands without access to food, water, and other basic necessities. It was an incredibly difficult week for Austinites throughout the city yet it showed the level of impact that can be made when a community comes together to help those in need. It was a bright spot of hope following the aftermath of the storm to see so many community members stepping up to help the thousands of Austinities who were or are still unhoused and without food and water.
The ATXelerator was founded in order to encourage civic leaders, voters, and community members towards public service and to create an inclusive community that provides opportunity for all citizens. We strive to identify and prepare future-focused leaders who will help solve Austin’s most pressing issues and who will serve as role models for what it means to be an engaged and compassionate Austinite.
That is exactly what we saw these past two weeks as people from all corners of our community dedicated their time, energy, and leadership to helping Austinites get access to the resources they needed. Relief efforts continued from last week through the weekend and we are so grateful to all those who have spent time assisting these efforts in any way. Without the compassionate volunteers, community members, and committed nonprofit organizations leading the live-saving relief efforts, Austin would have been challenged to fully recover from the devastating impacts of the storm.
We would like to highlight some of our community members who contributed in numerous ways to the on-going storm relief efforts and thank them for all they have done for our Austin community.
Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, Class of 2020, immediately took action to help community members in need and continuously kept her district updated with information from Austin Energy and Austin Water, and on available warming centers. She personally checked on residents in her district and set up emergency drinking water and food distribution sites. Her city-council team, including Class of 2021 member LaRessa Quintana, worked hard alongside her to ensure that access to food and drinking water remained a priority.
Damián Pantoja, a Del Valle School District Trustee and Class of 2021 member, spent significant time this week supporting community relief efforts. His volunteer efforts helped distribute masks, sanitizer, cleaning products, and other hygiene supplies.
Samuel Franco, Class of 2018, helped ensure that hungry Austinites were fed with the help of several wonderful local restaurants. He noted in a post on Facebook that “it’s so amazing to see the community come together in times of crisis”.
Rubén Cantú, Class of 2021, alongside the Community Resilience Trust, has tirelessly worked over the past week to organize the volunteer and community efforts at the Millenium food and water distribution center. Additionally, he is helping to ensure the safety of our unhoused neighbors as relief efforts are still underway.
Alex Navarro, Class of 2021, spent time this week helping to deliver food to community members as part of the ongoing city-wide hunger relief efforts.
Nathan Ryan, Class of 2021, volunteered at food and water distribution sites alongside CM Fuentes and other community leaders in aiding the ongoing disaster relief efforts. Additionally, he helped deliver clean water to those who needed it across Austin.
Jessie Wilson, Class of 2021, has dedicated over 40 hours of volunteer time over 3 days at the Palmer Events Center, which has served as a warming center during the winter storm and its aftermath.
We know many more of our community members have generously dedicated their time and energy to the city’s relief efforts over the past two weeks as well and we want to thank every single person who has done so!