After storms swept across nearly the entirety of North America this week bringing sleet, snow, and ice in their wake, many already struggling U.S. communities found themselves without power or in some cases running water. The unprecedented weather slammed many regions of Texas resulting in rolling blackouts that cut power to refrigerators to residents, grocery stores, and restaurants. Restaurants in Seattle dealt with damage to vital outdoor seating infrastructure, while in Houston and Austin water came under a boil advisory — a challenge for those without electricity.
Despite the tremendous obstacles — just the latest amid the pandemic — local food businesses and mutual aid groups have kicked into high gear to help make sure their communities stay warm and fed. These collective efforts have turned restaurants into warming centers and provided food and shelter to unhoused people. From Nashville to Dallas to Portland, Oregon, here’s how communities are coping during 2021 winter storms.