Many North Texans spent this week getting everything they need before temperatures drop and winter storm conditions arrive.
Here's how people in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties are preparing for the winter storm.
The city of Dallas joined forces with charities in plans to open one large inclement weather shelter at Fair Park at noon Wednesday.
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It is just one of the city’s preparations for days of expected freezing weather.
Cots were in place Tuesday in the Fair Park Automobile Building for shelter.
“We expect to feed probably a thousand people at every meal for three meals a day plus snacks for 7 days,” said Pastor Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.
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The church has provided its building as an inclement weather shelter in the past. It is teaming up with the city this time.
DART, which is already offering free rides through Feb. 7 to help transit customers get used to a new bus route system, will help homeless people get to Fair Park.
“We will work over the next several days to make sure as they come for meals here they are informed of the opportunity at Fair Park,” Pastor Baughman said.
City of Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions Director Christine Crossley said the large sheltering plan also comes during an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re not going to be allowing people to just show up to the building and donate things. We have to make sure that the only people on site are OHS employees and partnering staff, for the safety and security of everyone,” Crossley said.
COVID-19 testing will be done at the shelter and those who test positive will be taken to another location that is not being publicly disclosed to guard privacy and security.
Separate from Fair Park shelter, residents who have homes but lose power are directed to neighborhood recreation centers and libraries that the city intends to keep open as warming centers.
Generators purchased to keep warming centers open despite power failures are not in place yet.
And staffing may be an issue at warming centers, so officials suggest you check with those locations before going there.
“The city employees are probably under the same inclement weather conditions as the public and we’re trying to open facilities that are spread throughout the city with available staff,” Dallas Communications Director Catherine Cuellar said.
Information about conditions and city facilities will be updated with a link at the top of the Dallas City Hall website.
During last year’s extended freeze when many homes lost power and pipes burst, Mayor Eric Johnson helped distribute bottled water after some residents had gone days without a running water supply.
Dallas Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said there is concern among officials about another cold spell, but much less fear of the same severity and results.
“We as a city feel pretty good about being responsive and taking quick action for any event or any problems that we might face,” he said. “There is anxiety, but we are much better prepared than we were last year.”
Officials said Dallas street crews will be ready with deicing solution and sand trucks for bridges and DART transit routes.
Also Tuesday, the city offered inclement weather shelter training to help more organizations perform the service that Oak Lawn Methodist Church has done in the past.
“On these most severe inclement weather times, there is certainly more than any one organization can handle in responding to the needs of those who are unsheltered in our streets,” Pastor Baughman said.
As temperatures fall, Baughman said volunteers will be out looking for people who need to get into shelter. She urged residents who normally pass homeless people to take action the next few days.
“When you see someone, make sure they know there’s an option,” she said. “There’s a solution for everyone. Don’t leave anybody sitting on the street corner this week. It’s going to be real cold.”
Duane Wells picked up three bags of firewood from Bo’s BBQ and Firewood in Fort Worth on Tuesday. Last year, Wells was one of millions of Texans who went without power for days during the February 2021 winter storm. He’s hoping this week will not be a repeat, but he said he is prepared to stay warm over the next few days.
“I’ve got a generator and propane heater and things like that, but I just wanted this just in case,” Wells said. “Like I said, it’s also nice to have a fire.”
Bo Aurell is the owner of Bo’s BBQ and Firewood, which specializes in food-grade wood for restaurants. He also sells firewood to residents, Aurell said. Demand for firewood runs year-round, but he said calls from customers have tripled.
“Demand has been getting a lot higher lately,” he said. “We’ll be running and making deliveries until 7 p.m. tonight [Tuesday] and we’re going to be making deliveries until it rains tomorrow.”
James Mattingly, shop foreman at Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza in Fort Worth, said they have also been staying busy. Before the storm arrives, Mattingly said drivers should make sure their cars’ cooling systems are up to par and have good freeze protection.
Tire pressure should also be kept up, he said.
“And a full tank of gas,” Mattingly added. “It never hurts to have a full tank of gas just in case you’re stuck in traffic and can’t move. At least you can stay warm.”
Mattingly said car batteries should also be checked at least three times a year. As long as roads are safe to drive on and the weather permits, their shop plans to stay open as normal.
“We have enough work to stay busy to keep everyone going. We just want to make sure we take of our customers. They come first,” he said.
Collin & Denton County
In Collin County, residents loaded up on food and firewood ahead of the winter storm.
Some sought out stores to help protect their swimming pools from freeze damage anticipating a dip in the temperature.
Texas Woodman in Plano is constantly restocking its supply of ash, elm and seasoned oak firewood.
“The phones started going crazy yesterday morning with people hoping to get last-minute deliveries. That really didn’t happen. We’re usually scheduled a week or two out, but we’ll do our best to accommodate,” said owner Lauri Smith Alexander. “We get calls from as far away as Fort Worth.”
Texas Woodman is limiting firewood sales to 50 pieces in order to help as many customers as possible.
“We’ve been telling people for months and months and months: be ready,” she said. “February is the time of year we start to see that kind of weather anyway, even if the electricity doesn’t go out. If you like that warm fire, you have to prepare.”
Anticipating dropping temperatures, dozens of people visited 1 Stop Pool & Spa in Plano.
“We’ve been very busy. A lot of people are still really nervous because of what happened last year of course, but we’re here helping people walk through it and keeping their pools up and running and beautiful for this next summer,” said manager Ashley Ross.
Freeze protector thermostats have been a hot seller, she says.
During last year’s winter storm that left millions of Texans in the dark, Ross says many pool owners were unaware power went out overnight, leading to equipment damage.
Pool owners are encouraged to keep all equipment running.
“Just keep your equipment running as normal. That’s the most important thing. Water is not going to freeze as quickly as people will expect it to,” said Ross. “If you do happen to lose power, the most simple thing to do is to drain all your drain plugs from your equipment and wrap everything you can and make sure it’s nice and cozy in there and that will prevent any of the pipes from cracking or the equipment itself.”
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