Seeking shelter in a frozen Texas blackout

As last month’s winter storm left millions of Texans without power, calls flooded into 211 from those seeking warmth and shelter. On February 15, 2021, 4.5 million Texas customers were without power – nearly one-third of all customers in the state. The next day, requests to 211s across the state for shelters shot up, nearly 5x higher than an average day (top chart). These requests included callers seeking warming centers and places to stay. We examined 91,508 requests for shelter received by 211s in Texas between January 1, 2020 and March 15, 2021. The increase in shelter requests from February 14-20 was dramatic, and apparent in the state’s largest population centers (bottom left chart of Harris, Tarrant, Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties), and most counties across Texas (bottom right map). Data for these analyses came from 211 Counts, a daily tracking system of social needs used in Texas, and 37 other states. Mouse over the bars in each chart and the counties on the map to see the number of 211 shelter requests received by day or location.

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