Cold Weather, Warm Neighbors

Residents mobilize to help each other during historic Texas blizzard

While many Texans were without necessities like power and water during the winter storm in February, North Texans came together to help each other through it.

Information posted in a group chat for SMU human rights students prompted several to volunteer at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which housed 700 people during the storm.

“It was amazing to see that you got people out there that actually really care for helping the community, especially during times like this,” Bri Tollie said.

Hospital staff donated blood to replenish supplies. (PHOTO: Medical City Healthcare)

The SMU political science junior with a minor in human rights spent 10 hours at the convention center one day but said she and other volunteers usually just came to help during meals when the most help was needed.

The students packaged and distributed food and helped out with clothing donations.

“Nonprofits definitely do a lot for the community behind the scenes, and they don’t do it to try and get recognition or praise,” Tollie said. “They do it just out of the kindness of their heart, and all the volunteers that did come, it was just them taking the time out of their day during the time to do the same.”

Elsewhere, Geoffrey Small, an SMU alumnus, and his wife, Nicole, took in one of his daughters and seven of her sorority sisters after their sorority house on the SMU campus lost power.

“It was amazing to see that you got people out there that actually really care for helping the community, especially during times like this.”

Bri Tollie, SMU Political Science Junior
The Highland Park High School boys soccer
team collected blankets for nonprofit SoupMobile. (PHOTO: Courtesy HPISD)

“They were trying to figure out what to do and talking about how much snow there was, ice conditions, whether or not she could come home or get home…with some of her friends,” Small said. “The question of coming home grew as they had no access to food.”

He said they decided to come to the Smalls’ home in Southlake after finding out they would also lose water at the sorority house. 

Small said one of his daughter’s friends had an all-wheel-drive vehicle, and his eldest daughter’s boyfriend offered to pick up half the girls and bring them to their home.

“So that started the adventure,” he said. “Then we actually ended up picking up another one of the girls later in the week because she was in the Virginia Snider dorm that had a pipe burst.”

All told, 11 people were staying in the house at one point during the storm.

“The girls really made the most of just being here and all together,” Nicole said. “They had lots of laughs and did homework… went on walks in the neighborhood in the snow.”

Highland Park ISD shared that the Highland Park High School boys soccer team collected blankets for SoupMobile, which serves those in need in Dallas.

Hundreds of Medical City Healthcare colleagues spent nights inside the hospitals or nearby hotels during the week of the storm, Medical City Healthcare said in a press release.

Non-clinical colleagues shuttled co-workers, changed linens, and delivered food to patients and staff, among many duties. 

Staff also donated blood at an in-hospital blood drive to help replenish community blood supplies.

Bri Tollie (second from left) and other SMU students volunteered at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. (PHOTO: Allison Martin)

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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