UT Students and Faculty Helped the Community Survive the Winter Storm
By Libby Cohen
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — The outpouring of support from the University of Texas at Austin community during the February winter storm brought a bright spot to what was a terrible week for most.
An unprecedented winter storm rocked the state of Texas, leaving millions without power, water, and many times both. UT students were not exempt from the winter weather crisis. Some faculty and students stepped in to help members of the UT community in need.
The failed power grid was one of the major problems that left Texas without power. Texans likely turned up the heat in order to stay warm as temperatures reached the coldest in Texas since 1989, according to Spectrum News,
This was a particular problem for the state because it has a decentralized power grid, unlike the rest of the country. Other states can buy power from surrounding states in times of need because their grids are connected. Texas has no such connections.
When consumers began to use more power, electrical companies were not able to supply enough to meet the demand. It resulted in rolling blackouts across the state.
Water shortages were another issue. The low temperatures and power outages halted procedures at the Austin Water Treatment Center that provides clean water to much of the city. Some parts of Austin had no water, while those with water were warned to boil it before consuming.
However, many people did not have power to boil the water.
Others in Austin were dealing with too much water as pipes burst from cold temperatures, leaving gallons of water in their living spaces.
“I had students who had pipes burst and water fill up their apartments,” said Robert Quigley, the associate director of the School of Journalism and Media
“There’s so many stresses already in this life, especially when you’re a college student, and especially during a pandemic.”
The devastating combination of the storm and the COVID-19 pandemic left many students in dire need for their next meal.
The university has safeguards to help students, but it takes time to process a request. That is why faculty like sports journalism professor Kevin Robbins began to send funds directly to students through Venmo.
“Doing this through my Twitter and Venmo could provide them with instantaneous money,” Robbins said.
Robbins connected fellow journalism instructors Quigley, Katey Outka, and others with alumni who wanted to donate to students. It was a coordinated effort under the name “Another Day.” Robbins said the name came from trying to get students fed until their next meal.
Another Day provided over $13,000 to more than 400 students.
Robbins did not stop there. He teamed with Safe Horns, a safety organization at UT, to hand out free water bottles, pizzas, and tacos behind the University’s Co-Op. UT alumni including former football player Colt McCoy participated in the distribution.