East Texas Community Aid Centers Brace for Freezing Temperatures

Rick Gambol, administrator of the Heights of Tyler nursing home, says his staff learned a lot from last February’s freeze.

TYLER, Texas – Tammy Prater, executive director of the American Red Cross serving East Texas, remembers the last frost in February.

“It was very difficult to get calls from people who were cold and hungry and had no water and I couldn’t get things to them at that time,” Prater said.

The National Weather Service reports last year’s freeze was potentially the costliest weather disaster in Texas history

State officials say 246 people died as part of the storm, which led to multi-day road closures, power outages, heat loss, broken pipes and other complications.

All of this reminded the American Red Cross of the importance of preparing for the unexpected.

“The plea now is to prepare. Prepare your home. Prepare yourself,” Prater said.

Rick Gambol of the Heights of Tyler nursing home said his facility received the same recall.

They were prepared with a generator and food, but they weren’t up to the challenge of bringing personnel into the building after the roads were frozen.

“I would start in the morning around five o’clock to pick people up,” Gambol said. “And then it would be after midnight, when the last shift was over, that I would come back and bring everyone home.”

Some staff worked their full eight-hour shift and if the person replacing them couldn’t get to the roads, they worked another eight hours.

If there’s one warning Gambol could give before the temperatures drop this week, don’t underestimate mother nature.

“I urge everyone to do what you can to be better prepared. This time, if you’re ready and nothing happens, that’s fine. If you’re not prepared and something happens, then it’s not okay,” Prater said. .

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