TOLEDO, Ohio — Families in northwest Ohio are concerned about their loved ones dealing with widespread power outages in Texas.
Power returned to thousands of homes and businesses Thursday after a deadly winter storm brought record-low temperatures and heavy snow to Texas. There are still widespread power outages for the fourth day in a row, with more than 500,000 residents without power in the state.
The storm froze nuclear facilities, coal and gas power stations, and wind turbines. At least 25 deaths were attributed to the storm. 11 of the victims were from Texas.
Rayah Pierce, 19, is from Toledo and she's a freshman at Texas State University in San Marcos.
The storm hit Monday and she and her roommate lost power around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"We were in our apartment with 72 hours of no power. We were cold. It was 30 degrees in our apartment," Pierce said.
To find heat, Pierce and her roommate drove to a hotel half an hour away that had running water and rolling blackouts, which means the power switches on and off for a period time, which she says is better than nothing.
The bitter cold and lack of power led to an increase in 911 calls and hospitalizations. Many people were treated for exposure to the cold, and others for carbon monoxide poisoning — many used generators or ran their cars to try to stay warm but did it in enclosed places.
"It's really sad seeing how people are cold and starving here in their own houses and they can't do anything about it. I was one of the lucky ones to be able to find a hotel and stay in it," Pierce said.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that oversees the state's power grid, said it isn't sure when the power will be back on fully.
Pierce is simply glad she has some power, but she questions why she and hundreds of thousands of others are in this situation.
"Texas is equipped for national weather emergencies such as hurricanes. Why are they not equipped for a winter storm? Why did they not have these types of plans in place to begin with?" she questioned.
Here are ways you can help those in Texas.
The following is a list of organizations supporting the homeless communities around Texas:
The following is a list of wish lists, where you can directly purchase supplies for those experiencing the drastic cold:
Camp Rhonda, a community of homeless people in Dallas, has provided a list of their most needed supplies. Buy the supplies here.
During natural disasters and extreme weather like what Texas is experiencing, many people in need of abortion access have to reschedule appointments and remake travel arrangements.
WTOL 11 sister station 12NewsNow contributed the above list.