Metroplex residents step up to help those affected by winter storm disaster

The Metroplex’s extreme weather crisis, power outages, freezing temperatures and lack of access to water have placed many residents in compromising positions, and some have stepped up to help by offering food, supplies and even their homes.

Public health senior Karely Martinez and her family won’t be able to go back home immediately once the lights have come back on and the snow has melted.

Martinez is one of the millions of Texans who struggled with winter weather-related issues in their home, and one of many who had to seek shelter and resources elsewhere. Many people across the Metroplex provided the shelter and resources needed for their friends, family and neighbors.

On Wednesday, part of Martinez’s home in Venus, Texas, caught on fire because of an unattended water heater. The fire essentially melted a part of her house, leaving their bathroom gone and the house covered in ash, she said.

No one in the household was injured, but they were forced to leave and found shelter with family in Arlington.

She doesn’t know where her family would have gone without the help of other family members around the area, she said.

One can take for granted a working toilet and clean water until they don’t have it, and she feels sympathetic for people who have struggled to find a safe place to be, she said.

Going forward, she said her family is hopeful that warmer weather will allow them to fix their home.

She said this experience has offered her a different perspective and made her more compassionate toward other people’s struggles, especially as it relates to her major.

“How people have helped me, I want to do the same thing for other people who don’t have family and are struggling,” she said.

While many like Martinez have needed assistance, others have taken it upon themselves to supply that help.

Arlington residents Dara Wilhelmson and her husband Micah Sigmund are currently helping families in need of essentials such as food, water and shelter.

Wilhelmson, a native of Minnesota, and Sigmund, a native of Wisconsin, were happy to help others. They felt prepared to handle the extreme weather because of their experience living in the northern parts of the U.S.

Wilhelmson’s mother contacted her and asked if they needed help and if there was a nonprofit to donate to. Wilhelmson said she searched, but ultimately talked it over with Sigmund and decided to help people themselves.

On Thursday, Wilhelmson and Sigmund assisted families in Carrollton, Irving, southern Dallas and two families in Arlington.

On Friday, they helped eight families in Arlington, one in Grand Prairie and one in Mesquite.

Although no one has taken Wilhelmson or Sigmund up on the offer of coming into their home, they’ve been able to provide people with groceries.

Arlington resident Brandy Carden did her best to help people in need during the storms that hit the state.

She responded to a tweet from someone who was trying to find shelter for a friend and a young child. Carden replied saying, “I have a place for her in Arlington.”

The shelter wasn’t directly in Carden’s home, but in an apartment complex where her husband works.

Carden said helping out people in these times is “just the kind of person I am.”

It was tough watching videos and reading stories about people who didn’t have shelter during the storm, which led her to lend a helping hand, she said.

“Knowing that I was able to be comfortable in my home, I was wanting to be able to do something for someone else, and I was glad I could do it,” Carden said.

When the opportunity arose for Fort Worth resident Arielle Espana to provide her home to other people, it wasn’t a question, she said.

Espana said she was fortunate enough to have every capability and even had extra space in her home to accommodate multiple people.

She called her friend who lives in southern Arlington and had lost power and water to stay with her along with her two younger sisters.

She reached out to several friends nearby and later shared on social media that her home was available for anyone who needed it, she said.

She ended up housing her friends and her roommates’ friends.

She said she wants to make people feel comfortable and not make anyone feel like she was going out of her way.

“I just wanted everyone to feel like it was a slumber party,” she said. “It wasn’t about, ‘Let’s create a panic or make you feel any type of way about having to stay here.’" 

Moving forward she wants to think that people are wanting to be more selfless and help others.

@ByDavidSilvaR

@JayRod003

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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