Responding to Winter Storms

The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Austin is distributing meals to vulnerable communities impacted by the storms and power outages. 

Press ReleaseEpiscopal Relief & Development Supports Local Partners in Response to Winter Storms in Texas

Press Release

February 24, 2021

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal dioceses of Dallas, Texas and West Texas as they provide emergency relief to individuals and families impacted by the unprecedented ice storm, low temperatures and power outages last week.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program partners with local churches and other organizations to provide emergency relief and long-term support as vulnerable communities respond to and rebuild from disasters such as hurricanes, winter storms and wildfires. Most disasters have three phases: Rescue, Relief and Recovery.

“We are early on in the life-cycle of this disaster,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director, US Disaster Program, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Our partners in Texas leveraged their experience in responding to hurricanes and COVID-19 to immediately provide aid in their communities. They are skilled at figuring out how to quickly use the churches’ gifts to meet community needs, and I continue to be inspired by their creativity and tenacity under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, is targeting relief efforts to reach refugee and underserved communities with food, bottled water and gift cards for utility bills. Many in these communities are day laborers who, in addition to experiencing damage to their homes, lost income due to the lack of work and power outages. To address immediate needs during the power outages, the diocese opened a warming center and shelter at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas. Now that temperatures have warmed, the Cathedral’s food pantry remains open. All relief efforts are being carried out while following strict protocols to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

Similarly, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, initially opened emergency shelters and warming centers and distributed food, gasoline and generators to address immediate needs in under-resourced communities in the greater Houston, Waco and Austin areas. In the Austin area, volunteers and staff are continuing to distribute meals for individuals and families in need. Congregations in the greater Houston area have begun assisting with plumbing repairs, while continuing to provide food, clothing and other personal goods to help replace what was damaged.

The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas mobilized its hurricane response team to begin to identify opportunities to provide support to people living in the 19 counties in southern Texas that have been declared disaster areas. In partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the diocese will work through its network of churches and food banks to deliver food, water, direct financial assistance, household and other supplies.

“As this disaster evolves, our partners will continue to identify innovative ways to meet needs that are not being met by other organizations,” continued Mears.

Please pray for all those impacted by the winter storms and power outages. Donations to the US Disaster Response Fund will enable Episcopal Relief & Development to continue to respond to the winter storms and other disasters. Learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program.

For 80 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Photo courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.



Web StatementResponding to Winter Storms

Web Statement

February 18, 2021

Episcopal Relief & Development is in close contact with Episcopal dioceses in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana as they assess needs created by winter storms that are producing widespread power outages across the south.

Winter storms and ongoing freezing temperatures knocked out power in much of Texas on February 14. Over 3 million homes lacked electricity as of Wednesday morning. Without power and heat, many water pipes and water mains froze and burst, leaving people without water and causing damage to their homes. The storms have also interrupted the food supply chain, compounding the challenges for people who lost food due to lack of refrigeration. Food banks have been similarly affected, making it difficult for them to serve vulnerable communities that rely on their services. People without homes have been especially impacted as sleeping outdoors is extremely dangerous in these conditions but shelter space is already limited due to COVID-19 precautions.

The organization’s US Disaster Program team has been in communication with staff at the Episcopal dioceses of Dallas, East Carolina, Fort Worth, Oklahoma, Northwest Texas, Rio Grande, Texas, Western Louisiana and West Texas, many of whom have been personally affected by the water and power outages all week. Partners are in the process of assessing the needs of vulnerable communities such as those without housing.

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, is supplying emergency shelter, warming centers, food, generators and gasoline to under-resourced communities in the greater Houston, Waco and Austin areas. The diocese is leveraging its long-term Hurricane Harvey recovery team, which was already responding to COVID-19, to meet these immediate needs and will continue to assess how it can provide support as the crisis evolves.

“Our partners in southern states are experienced in responding to hurricanes and are adapting emergency response plans in light of the cold weather and power crisis,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director, US Disaster, Episcopal Relief & Development. “As temperatures begin to rise, we expect to see more reports of water damage, and we stand ready to support our partners as they respond.”

Please pray for all those impacted by the winter storms and freezing temperatures. Donations to the US Disaster Response Fund will enable Episcopal Relief & Development to continue to respond to this crisis and other disasters, whether natural or human-made.

For 80 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Photo Courtesy of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, TX