Saluting Our Community Heroes During the Arctic Blast

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We all know that the arrival of frosty ice, sleet, and snow came to town on Saturday, Feb., 13th and homes across the Brazos Valley had snow on parts of their rooftops and gutters for days after. As we also know, there was no way to anticipate some of the challenges our community would face, with increased demands for service and overtaxed faithful workers in so many fields that impacted us directly.

I’d personally like to thank many of you for being the very best of Bryan-College Station as we all found out the limits of our electronic equipment, our power, water, heat, and transportation capabilities, and dwindling stock on grocery shelves.

Things got pretty rough during the weekend and we delayed or rearranged funeral services until “better weather prevailed” and it was safe for people to travel to pay their respects to loved ones.

For most of Monday and Tuesday, parts of Bryan and College Station were on various rolling blackout management procedures, and there was a good chance that when power returned, the TV cable did not. Thankfully, we are a community of (mostly) charged cell phones, which gave us a bit more reliability.

Across Facebook, or www.nextdoor.com, and across local news channels (KBTX, KAGS, KRHD), our neighbors and friends set up informal information centers to alert us to Reed Arena being opened as a warming shelter, Salvation Army collecting and distributing coats and blankets, local businesses (and locally owned national franchises) feeding our emergency personnel lunches, and our wonderful grocery stores, particularly HEB’s willingness to try and help neighbors find what they needed. In fact, the operations and guiding principles behind HEB have been so stalwart during emergency situations in general, that Texas Monthly even devoted an in-depth story to them in August 2020.

People calling each other saying, “I’m going to the store, what are you out of? What can I get you?” All week long. Neighbors with power took in neighbors without power; they checked on our seniors, found milk for families with children. We owe major thanks to Bryan and College Station Firefighters and EMTs, Bryan and College Station Police, 911 emergency responders, and Brazos County Sheriff’s Office personnel for all they did for us.

This past Sunday, Feb. 21, was really the first day where people could get out of their homes and as The Eagle noted in their front page story of Feb. 22, Peace Lutheran Church in College Station was the site of distributing items collected from “The Brazos Valley Blessings Facebook group and Black Lives Matter B/CS,” a group founded by Ebony Peterson and Tre Watson. Also, in Bryan, at the Carver Kemp Neighborhood Association distributed “food and other critical supplies that Texas A&M students collected Friday at Reed Arena.”

On the community web site NextDoor.com, people put out messages asking for help, especially locating key, critical packages sent through the U.S. Post Office and Amazon delivery via USPS and whatever trucks could make it through. Although it was a time of real confusion and chaos in package delivery of ice-covered sidewalks and mailboxes, folks helped one another get the correct packages to one another just posting updates and information.

Throughout the week, a few pets escaped their yards and went wandering in the snow. Again, NextDoor.com was of immeasurable help in making sure the right dog found the right home.

One story was shared in the office that at one point one of the HEB’s had experienced a power loss and they made an announcement that everyone should just bring their baskets to the front of the store and…in a tremendous act of goodwill, whatever they had in the basket was given at no cost to their faithful shoppers. Across the state of Texas, the H.E. Butt family and their Family Foundation have been exceptionally generous and supportive of the communities where they have stores. Here in B-CS, we have four HEB stores.

As many of us know, so many in our community live in rural areas where the water supply is well-based and the cold weather tested the metal, literally, of the well pumps and several experienced failures. One of our team members here posted on Facebook this morning that she greatly appreciated Chuck Norris and his family keeping their C-Force water sales office open late Saturday, so customers could get bottled water for families who are “still under the boil water notice or who are still experiencing low water pressure.”

Our own Callaway-Jones team worked diligently to arrange services with our families so they could arrive and participate safely in our building and at gravesites around town. All of our families were so understanding as we worked together to get through the week and the weather. Local utilities provider BTU announced early on that they would not be disconnecting any utilities during “snow and ice week” and to be assured of that.

One individual in Houston who is an amazing example of philanthropy and caring is Jim “Mattress Mac” McInvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston. Back when we all went through Hurricane Harvey, Mattress Mac opened his stores to anyone who needed a place to stay. Once again, with the snowpocalypse, Mac asked anyone who needed a place to stay (with warmth and food) to come to Gallery Furniture where they’d be safe and warm there. Even today, if you visit his North Freeway Houston store, you can get free bottled water and non-perishable food. One man, his team, his company, his brand, making an unforgettable difference in so many lives. This kind of generosity of spirit is beyond the norm, but it is so “McInvale”!

May each of us find our own way to be of help in the rest of 2021, in preparation for cold snaps later this year in November and December, not only for ourselves, but for those in needs. Let’s use the good weather to find extra coats, blankets and all-weather boots, etc. The Salvation Army will definitely appreciate it! Also, stay tuned to CallawayJones.com as I’ll keep you posted on groups who are asking for those who could use a little extra help that way.

Our community continues to be inspirational in thoughtful giving, unconditional love and support to get help to or for people wherever you all saw a need. Please add acts of kindness that you saw, heard of, or that you experienced here! Share the good news and let’s honor anyone you saw in our community doing for others! Pay it forward and smile with gratitude for all we have received from others’ generosity.

 

Cody ‘02 and Chelsea Jones ‘11

Owners & Community Members

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