This article appeared in the February 18, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How Texans helped turtles – and each other

Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald/AP
Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp's ridley sea turtles that were stunned by the cold are laid out to recover on Feb. 16, 2021, at the South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas.

For millions of Texans, it’s been a week of unusual cold and darkness. It has also called forth the unquenchable warmth and enduring light of kindness and compassion.

As snow and freezing temperatures swept the state, neighbors checked on neighbors, opening their homes and sharing supplies or assisting with errands. Out on the slippery streets, people used shovels and shoulder power to keep cars from getting stranded.

Rescue efforts extended to the shoreline, where sea turtles were stunned by the frigid temperatures. Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, found himself the unexpected caretaker of thousands of turtles, brought by the truckload or one at a time. “We’ve collected a lot, now we’ll try to save ’em,” he said.

“People do care. It makes you happy inside that there is good out there,” Margie Taylor, a Houston area resident who lost power and heat, told the Houston Chronicle.

Chris Lake, a Lutheran pastor, came to her rescue with an extra generator that could power a space heater. While assisting homeless people and others in the area, Mr. Lake and his teenage son needed aid themselves. Their truck got stuck, but strangers paused to pry it loose.

Such acts, multiplied across the state, were what enabled many people to get through an often harrowing week. (Henry Gass, our snowbound reporter in Austin, will be writing about the electric grid challenges in tomorrow’s Daily.) The gratitude encompassed the givers as well as the receivers. 

The opportunity to help was “deeply meaningful,” Mr. Lake said. “To have my son be with me to see some of this stuff was pretty amazing.”

This article appeared in the February 18, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/18 edition
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