Texas’ winter storm brings new set of challenges for Disaster ReBuilders; volunteers needed

Texas’ winter storm brings new set of challenges for Disaster ReBuilders; volunteers needed

When last month’s weeklong winter freeze struck all 254 Texas counties, millions lost electricity and the ability to heat their homes. Residents huddled together in shelters, while some families resorted to burning pieces of furniture to stay warm. Others perished in freezing temperatures. At least 40 deaths are blamed on the winter storm in Texas alone.

As power was restored across the state and temperatures rose, new problems gushed forth, literally. Pipes had burst across the state — flooding homes, apartments and businesses. More than a million people are still under orders to boil tap water before drinking or using it.

Estimates of the damage done by what was known as Winter Storm Uri range from $195 billion on the low end to as much as $295 billion, far exceeding the $125 billion in economic damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey and its flooding of Gulf Coast areas of Texas. It was Harvey that brought the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders to Texas more than three years ago. They set up a base in Galveston County and have been working to help families restore their homes and lives ever since.

“The light at the end of the tunnel was getting brighter in Texas,” Disaster ReBuilders President Bart Tucker said. “We could definitely see a diminished sense of need.”

Not anymore. A rare silver lining in the wake of the winter storm is that homes the Disaster ReBuilders and hundreds of volunteer already have helped restore and rebuild appear to have escaped the winter storm unscathed.

“I’m going to classify it as a miracle since it’s not at all clear to me why certain houses were damaged while their neighbors escaped,” Tucker said. “Regardless, we now have many new neighbors to serve.”

Tucker said that they first must work on restoring water to families before they can truly get started rebuilding and repairing major damage. Volunteers and donations are desperately needed.

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