Anna Margaret lives in the rolling hills of Austin, Texas. Her family was one of the millions left without access to safe water after the record-shattering Texas winter storms in February.
She and her children initially lost power in the first few days of the winter storm. When the electricity came back on, the heat did not. Knowing this put her pipes at risk, Anna Margaret ensured she had emergency water jugs and a bathtub full of water. After four days trying to keep her children warm in the cold house, a pipe finally burst in the middle of the night. She awoke to find water gushing from her house.
As the downstairs flooded, she hurriedly gathered her children’s photos, artwork, and baby books. Her kids grabbed their favorite stuffed animals.
“Other things can be washed or replaced, but those things you can’t get back,” she shared, flipping through a water-damaged book her daughter gave her.
Once the city turned the neighborhood’s water off, the family was without water for two weeks.
“I was praying a lot,” she said. “I was thinking that I could do this for a day or a week, but how long is the bathtub water going to last?”
Because her home sits on the top of a hill, the icy roads were inaccessible for driving. She and the children ate canned goods, peanut butter, and beans. They rationed their emergency water for drinking, brushing their teeth, and washing their hands, but did not have enough water to bathe. She described it as a “hard reality.”
“While I was still in the house without water and without heat, I was getting really fatigued and a little bit stressed of how long I could endure this,” Anna Margaret said. “I was thinking about…people who go so long without water…. Maybe I had to experience it to understand it.”
At home or abroad, safe water is a necessity in any crisis. Through our partners’ generosity, Water Mission mobilized skilled plumbers and provided emergency plumbing supplies. We collaborated with Plumbers Without Borders, the Austin Disaster Relief Network, and corporate partners to organize skilled labor and send plumbing-related materials. Thanks to an efficient, targeted response and support from donors, Water Mission was positioned to respond to Anna Margaret and her children’s needs.
Nearly 40 volunteer plumbers from 19 states traveled to Texas to serve. These dedicated volunteers worked long hours to repair 263 homes, helping some of Austin’s most vulnerable residents.
When the family was finally able to brush their teeth, wash their hands, and use the restroom with running water, Anna Margaret says, “Those very simple things were so appreciated.”
She thanks God profusely for access to safe water again.
“When I was taking that first shower…and letting the water rush over me, I just had such a heart of gratitude…[Clean water] washes you physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
“I realized how precious [water] is and how everybody deserves that,” she said. “Water is life.”
Learn more about Water Mission’s disaster response in Texas and around the world here.