How a storm sparked a humanitarian crisis in Texas

Two days before the storm began, Houston’s top elected official advised citizens to prepare as they would for a severe hurricane. Many listened to him: Texans who could store food and water, while nonprofits and government agencies set out to help those who couldn’t.

But few realized the fiasco that was to come. They couldn’t be prepared.

As temperatures plummeted, and snow and ice hit the state, much of Texas’ power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems.

Tens of millions crowded into icy homes that slowly grew colder or fled to safety. And a proud state, wary of regulation and foreign aid, stood looking for help from other states and humanitarian groups as much of its 29 million inhabitants tried to survive.

At a hospital, workers were standing outside to collect rainwater.

Others were trained in a key that worked in a park. A mother took her three children to a shelter in a furniture store after watching their breath form in the family trailer. College professors raised funds so their students could pay for meals.

Images of desperate Texans circulated around the world.

Some compared them to a less wealthy or self-centered place. For others, he exposed problems that had been getting worse for a long time.

The state’s Republican leadership was blamed for ignoring warnings that winter could create chaos and failing to provide local officials with enough information on how to protect residents.

A week after warning her county of nearly 5 million residents of the impending storm, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was sleeping on an inflatable mattress at the county’s emergency operations center. His house was without power for three nights.

“The question is worth asking: who set up this system and who perpetuated it knowing that the correct regulation was not in place?” Hidalgo said.

“Those questions will have to be asked and I hope there will be changes. The community deserves answers ”.