Abbott, Johnson Offer Relief Initiatives After Winter Storm

As Texas residents begin to understand the nuanced consequences of last week’s winter storm, various state and local officials are creating initiatives to deal with the current circumstances and to prevent future disorder from occurring again.

From suggesting new systems of energy efficiency to announcing new call centers and relief funds, county changes are happening.

All the while, Dallas County’s Fair Park drive-thru Covid-19 vaccine operations are continuing into next week and you can register for the coronavirus shot at this website. Here’s today’s Dallas news fix:

  • Dallas County reported 614 additional positive cases COVID cases today; but hark, the Fair Park vaccine drive-thru continues to operate;
  • SMU director said the historic winter storm demonstrates Texas’ critical need to transform its markets for energy efficiency;
  • Abbott launched a call center to allow Texans without internet access to submit their disaster damage information;
  • Dallas mayor offered $500,000 in relief grants to 25 local organizations.
The Fair Park vaccine drive-thru continues to operate

First and foremost, the pandemic. Fair Park gave its status update on vaccine distributions. Following closures from last week’s weather incident, vaccine operations are up and running at Dallas County’s Fair Park drive-thru site this week.

County health officials reported Thursday 614 new cases of COVID-19, and 24 deaths, including 13 from Dallas. All were 50 or older, and all but two had underlying conditions.

 In an effort to catch up on delayed second doses as soon as possible, Dallas County has released the schedule below.

Fair Park Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Schedule

Dallas County health officials request public patience because residents who need their second dose are on a prioritized deadline. Additionally, the Fair Park location must space out individuals to ensure timely and safe delivery.

The CDC guidance is that second doses of the vaccine may be administered up to 6 weeks, or 42 days, after the first dose. However, Fair Park plans to accommodate those needing a second dose much sooner than that.

For more information and to check for updates on Fair Park vaccine operations, visit

SMU Hunt Institute director: Storm shows critical need for energy efficiency

The historic mid-Feb. winter storm shows the critical need for Texas to transform its markets for energy efficiency, said executive director of SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity Eva Csaky.

Also working as the co-founder of the Inclusive Economy Consortium, Csaky said a $1 million investment in energy-efficiency improvements will reduce energy consumption by three-to-five megawatts, which will leave Texans better-off the next time a massive storm comes around.

This proposal would reduce demand for power, Csaky said, and potentially reduce 57 percent of CO2 emissions by 2030.

Texas has many of the resources in place to lead the country in solving the energy crisis, Csaky said.

 “With any luck, a storm of this scale won’t be repeated in our lifetimes, but with climate change the risk of extreme weather is ever-present,” Csaky said. “We must seize every opportunity to reduce our energy consumption.”

Csaky listed the economic rewards of energy-efficiency measures as reduced household utility bills, reduced energy poverty, more competitive small businesses and up to 30 decent jobs created for every million dollars invested. On a macro-level, there would be reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved resilience in the face of climate events, said Csaky.

Founded in 2009, SMU’s Hunt Institute has a mission is to serve as a partner with leaders in business, academia, NGOs and government to develop solutions to pressing issues.   

Abbott launched a call center to allow Texans without internet access to submit their disaster damage information

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), with the of the Texas Military Department, launched a call center to assist Texans, who have limited or no internet access, with completing the State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT). 

Texans can call 844-844-3089 between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM, seven days a week, to submit their disaster damage information. This call center is specifically for Texans who are unable to submit information through the online iSTAT tool. 

If needed, a state emergency management professional will visit impacted homes to collect photos and documentation of damage for the validation process. 

Texans are urged to fill out the iSTAT, either online or over the phone if internet access is limited, to help the state identify damages across Texas and help emergency management officials gain an understanding of damages that occurred during the recent severe winter weather event. This data is also needed to obtain federal disaster assistance. 

“The information gleaned from the iSTAT will help us advocate for the support and assistance our communities need to recover from the winter storm,” said Governor Abbott. “This call center is available to help Texans without internet access complete this crucial survey.” 

Good news:

Dallas mayor’s disaster relief fund announces $500,000 in grants to 25 organizations

The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund (MDRF) will distribute $500,000 in grants to 25 local organizations that are helping residents who are recovering from last week’s winter storms. Each organization will receive a $20,000 grant. 

The grants were unanimously approved by the MDRF advisory committee. Former U.S. ambassador and current Hunt consolidated senior vice president Jeanne Phillips chairs the committee.

Elected in June 2019, mayor Eric Johnson said the MDRF is a reflection of the Dallas’ strength. Johnson said he appreciates thanked the donors and the work of the grant recipients.

“Last week’s brutal winter storms and catastrophic power outages tested our city’s resolve and our resilience,” Johnson said. “The people of Dallas are our city’s greatest asset, and I am thrilled that we will be able to help them recover and rebuild.”

Since Johnson publicized the Fund’s activation last week, The Dallas Foundation has received over $1.2 million in donations. The majority of the donations came from the Dallas Mavericks organization.

The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, sponsored by The Dallas Foundation, was initially created to help the City shelter Hurricane Katrina refugees in 2005. The Fund also previously distributed $275,000 to organizations that were helping residents navigate the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money in the Fund can only be used in the event of a federally declared disaster in Dallas. President Joe Biden declared Texas’ winter storm an initial federal disaster on Feb. 14.

“The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund was created for a moment like this, when our city must come together to recover from a huge disaster,” said Phillips, the committee chair. “Now, we look forward to seeing the work of these reputable organizations as they help our communities rebuild.”

To donate to the Fund, click here.

Below is the list of 25 organizations that will receive $20,000 grants from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund to further aid them as they help the city’s residents recover from last week’s extreme weather and outages.

  1. Aunt Bette’s Community Pantry at St. Philip’s School and Community Center serves meals every week to individuals and families in need in South Dallas. The organization has continued serving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Austin Street Center has specialized in caring for the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas for over 30 years. The organization provides safe shelter and other basic needs.
  3. Bachman Lake Together is a neighborhood-based collective impact organization that focuses on early childhood education and parent leadership. The organization is currently working with families in the Bachman Lake area to provide emergency financial assistance for expenses such as rent, food, and utilities.
  4. Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, based in West Dallas, provides food, healthcare, and educational programming to those in need. Its core programs include a grocery store, where neighbors have access to healthy food, ensuring access to quality healthcare for the uninsured, and educational programs, including English classes, computer courses, and fitness programs.
  5. Carter’s House, headquartered in South Dallas, assists families with school-age children who are in need. The organization provides clothing, including school uniforms, and educational, professional, and parental support programs. 
  6. Catholic Charities of Dallas helps vulnerable residents in our community by offering food distribution, legal services, disaster relief, homelessness and housing services, and more. The organization recently launched a direct assistance program for residents impacted by the recent severe weather and outages.
  7. Crossroads Community Services’ mission is to nourish our community’s low-income families and individuals by providing nutritious food and supportive education. 
  8. For Oak Cliff is a neighborhood-based collective impact organization that focuses on lifting individuals and families in Dallas out of poverty through education, advocacy, and community building. The organization has recently gone to work obtaining resources — including food, shelter, and other essentials — to residents in need after the severe weather and power outages last week.
  9. Girls Inc. Dallas partners with schools and other organizations to serve girls ages 6-18 in Dallas, focusing on providing academic, social, and emotional support. 
  10. Harmony Community Development Corporation is located in southern Dallas and operates a food pantry for those in need. The organization also provides rental, mortgage, and utility assistance, as well as counseling services.
  11. Harvest Project Food Rescue is a volunteer-run organization that was started to fight food insecurity and food waste in the city of Dallas. With the help of community partners, the organization is able to distribute free fresh produce baskets to hundreds of families a month.
  12. Inspired Vision Compassion Center, located in southeast Dallas, distributes food to families in need. The organization also distributes emergency hygiene products, clothing, school uniforms, first aid supplies, and other essential items.
  13. Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas provides professional, effective, and affordable mental health and social services to individuals and families in need. The organization operates a food pantry and also assists with family violence intervention, emergency housing assistance, counseling, and other services.
  14. Mosaic Family Services is a provider of services such as emergency shelter and counseling, primarily to immigrants and refugees who are victims of violence, including domestic violence and human trafficking.
  15. Pleasant Grove Food Pantry provides food and other basic necessities to residents in need in Pleasant Grove and surrounding neighborhoods. The organization serves more than 170 families in need each week. 
  16. Services of Hope provides food, essential items, and rental, mortgage, and utility assistance to families in need in Dallas. The organization is currently providing emergency funds for shelter, plumbing, food, rent, utilities, and other services for people affected by the recent winter storms. 
  17. The Stewpot offers a safe haven for homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas, providing resources for basic survival needs, as well as opportunities to start a new life. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization expanded its meal distributions to include households experiencing food insecurity.
  18. The Family Place has been helping victims of family violence in Dallas since 1978. The organization provides everything needed to help victims become survivors. The winter storm resulted in major damage to its shelter.
  19. The Senior Source provides a number of services aimed at improving the quality of life for older adults, caregivers, and families of senior adults in Dallas. 
  20. TR Hoover Community Development Corporation helps families in South Dallas through a number of programs and services. The organization hosts health fairs, community meetings, after-school programs, summer camps, and other events and programming for families in South Dallas and continually works to distribute food and other essential items.
  21. Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation serves the Vickery Meadow area in Dallas, which is a highly diverse, low-income neighborhood in northeast Dallas. In addition to its educational enrichment programs, including early childhood assistance and career preparation, the organization is providing water, food, diapers, rental support, and other services to residents in need.
  22. Voice of Hope Ministries provides programs, services, and essential items to families in West Dallas. The organization operates a food pantry that provides much-needed food and household items to families every week.
  23. Wesley-Rankin Community Center is located in West Dallas and aims to identify and bridge gaps in education, health, and skills development for residents through its multi-generational programming. Services include children’s education programs, senior programs, daily fellowship, health education, meal distribution, and adult education programs.
  24. White Rock Center of Hope is a volunteer-run nonprofit that focuses on satisfying the basic needs of people in East Dallas. The organization operates a food pantry and a clothes closet. White Rock Center of Hope offers services and essential items such as emergency rent and utility assistance, financial aid, and bus passes. 
  25. The Wilkinson Center helps financially insecure residents in East Dallas and southeast Dallas by distributing food, monetary assistance, educational programming, career development, financial literacy classes, and other items and programs. Their stated goal is to help create pathways out of poverty for individuals and families in need.

If your belongings were negatively impacted by the recent winter storm, visit to fill out the iSTAT.

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