Amidst a winter storm with record-low temperatures and unprecedented power outages, residents of The Colony banded together beginning Feb. 14 to help those in need until power was fully restored to the city.
Joe Perez, director of community relations, said the city, like their neighboring cities, do not have large enough public facilities like convention centers to assist all of the residents affected by the outages. Because many residents were without power, the city partnered with nonprofit organizations Next Steps and Horizon Church to establish a warming station.
“It was city-wide. We fortunately had a lot of nonprofits, churches and volunteers who stepped up,” Perez said. “A lot of folks came by and asked how they can volunteer and offer supplies, so it also served as a donation point. Members of the community brought food and water. Seven Doors donated some food that they were going to have to throw out. The community rallied pretty quickly to support those who needed help.”
The church opened their doors to residents from the evening of Feb. 14 through Feb. 19.
The Colony’s emergency services also assisted residents during the blackouts. The fire department responded to calls from residents on oxygen tanks, supplying full tanks to those in need until power was restored. Meanwhile, the police department conducted welfare checks on elderly communities such as Evergreen and checked in on residents staying at Horizon. They helped supply residents with necessary items like blankets, water and prescriptions.
“Our response in general was to prep major intersections with salt and sand,” Perez said. “Our street crews were out a lot. Our water distributors were also out to handle water maintenance and shut off water for places that requested it, like in the commercial areas.”
While other cities had to shut their water plants down, Perez noted that The Colony was fortunate in that nobody went without water because of any breakages or issues with the city plants.
During the outages, the animal shelters had power and remained open to take in and provide for strays and surrendered animals.
“The volunteers at the shelter were out doing patrols and bringing food if needed,” Perez said. “We had a few folks at the warming stations who had dogs, so the shelter brought them food and toys and things like that.”
Perez accredited the speed of the community response to the organization conducted through social media.
“Overall, we were very fortunate we didn’t experience a lot of the issues reported in other cities like water plants shutting down,” Perez said. “We had our own set of problems, but we were much more fortunate than our surrounding neighbors, and we’re fortunate that our community stepped up like they did. It was a big, concerted effort.”
City helps in the aftermath
The city of The Colony is offering assistance to residents who were impacted by the winter storm.
The city announced it will not take the water consumption from the month of February to calculate residents’ sewer charge for April to March. Typically that sewer rate is calculated by using the water consumption of December to March.
The city is also waiving permit fees associated with water line breaks and other storm related expenses.