Dear IRC community,
UPDATE: February 24
The sun is shining in Texas, temperatures are in the 60s, and we are happy to report initial assessments from IRC staff indicate that acute client needs are being met. IRC is still working closely with refugee families who have been displaced due to property damage and whose homes require repair. Our staff in Abilene also managed to welcome a family of four yesterday and reunite them with family.
As weather conditions have improved, snow and ice are beginning to melt and most families have had water and power access restored. Abilene remains under a water boil order. Fortunately, stores and supplies are beginning to be restocked so families and staff have been able to meet these basic needs.
In the days and weeks ahead, IRC staff in Abilene and Dallas will continue to help direct and refer clients to all resources in the community and IRC will continue to help families who have experienced property damage to rebuild. Thanks to the generosity of supporters near and far, nearly $10,000 has been donated to help power our local response.
Last week, Texas experienced extreme winter weather conditions, which damaged the state’s independent power grid system causing widespread power outages. As a result of life-threatening temperatures, some water pipes in homes froze and burst, leaving many Texas residents also without running water and property damage. Communities reported shortages of water and critical supplies and difficult driving conditions, making transportation and basic service delivery difficult.
Despite significant impact to IRC staff, IRC in Abilene and Dallas staff were in contact with refugee and asylum seekers to check in, focusing on locations where many clients live in apartment complexes with multiple units impacted. IRC staff are working with refugees to communicate local safety and public health guidelines and resources and providing interpreters to clients. In Abilene and Dallas, virtually all clients from the past two years of arrivals were contacted, starting with the most vulnerable and newest arrivals.
At the IRC we are inspired and humbled by the dedication of IRC staff and community members who are going to great lengths to help keep refugees safe. One staff member even spent her first day on the job helping get refugees to shelters to stay warm.
The IRC’s response focuses on communicating with refugee clients and helping them to access warm/safe places, monitoring for shortages of potable water and food items, distributing coats and emergency essentials. The IRC will be supporting refugees whose apartments experienced more extensive damage and who may need to relocate.
If you need help
IRC clients, please contact your caseworker if you need help, or call:
- Abilene: 325-675-5643
- Dallas: 214-461-9781
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention is open as a warming center not an overnight shelter. Please consider coming to the center if you are able to travel safely. A COVID-19 screening will be required at sign-in. ID is not required. The warming center is set-up for proper social distancing, and mask usage is required. Residents will be provided a chair and table and should bring in meals for themselves and their family if they are able to. Water, coffee and light snacks will be made available. The warming center is not an overnight shelter and cots will not be provided. For updates visit: http://www.dallascitynews.net/city-dallas-opens-emergency-warming-center
The City is deploying assistance to the hardest hit parts of the city that have neighborhoods with no power for over 24 hours or more as mobile warming stations. If there is a critical need in your area, please let the city know as they deploy mobile warming stations. Residents can call the City at 214-316-9480 or email CouncilOffice [at] dallasacityhall.com to receive services. Spanish bilingual staff are monitoring calls and email requests.
How to help
The impact of this storm to everyone in Texas is immense, but refugees and asylum-seekers face additional unique challenges as they settle into their newly adopted communities. IRC’s response is made possible by concerned individuals, faith groups and corporations around the country. IRC is working with local community partners to help respond to the immediate emergency and longer-term impacts as they unfold.
If you are interested in supporting the IRC’s response in Texas and have the ability to do so during this difficult time, you can make a restricted contribution to the IRC in Dallas or in Abilene. Your gifts will allow the IRC to deliver critical support to impacted families and ensure programs are able to continue. Donations will ensure IRC is able to provide temporary accommodations for families, provide interpretation for families to help them understand how to stay safe, and ensure food security and deliveries of emergency supplies.
Donations of supplies
As of February 24, 2021, the IRC in Dallas and Abilene office locations are closed and are unable to accept drop-off donations of products from the community. However, if you are interested in making donations of warm weather gear, emergency-response supplies such as masks, flashlights, portable phone chargers, as well as other essential items such as laptops, phones, you may contact DonationsDallas [at] rescue.org (subject: Donation%20of%20products%20-%20TX%20winter%20storm) and we can discuss arranging your donation when conditions improve. If your company is interested in making a large-scale product donation, please contact partnerships [at] rescue.org.
Thank you for your concern for Texas residents – stay safe.
Deputy Director for Programs, IRC in Dallas
Resettlement Director, IRC in Abilene