Winter Storm Survivor – Loretta


Loretta has been in Texas since she was a young girl. She loves Austin for its liberal, relaxed, family-oriented ways, as well as its parks, waterways, and warm temperatures. “There’s nothing better,” she says. A mother of five, and even a young grandmother, Loretta is engaging in conversation and laughs easily. She speaks with passion and motivation about the future 501 non-profit she hopes to build to support folks who have struggled with homelessness, having experienced it herself for three years. On a self-professed “pay-it-forward mission of love,” Loretta is one of those inspiring, positive people you just want to be around.

When the snow first began to fall in February, Loretta and her family were excited. Her daughters (ages 10 and 25), her 3-month-old infant grandson, and Loretta herself had all just recovered from a serious battle with Covid-19. So when they lost power and heat in the sub-freezing temperatures — and were given little to no information as to when it would come back — it was a hard blow to endure.

“I had been homeless for three years… but this ice storm was the worst experience I’ve ever had.”

After several days of frigid indoor temperatures and huddling together in one bed to keep warm, the sun came out. Loretta thought her family was finally in the clear. But it was at that time that her hot water heater exploded, setting off the fire sprinklers and flooding her entire apartment with water. Now they had a freezing apartment without power, without running water, without gas, and they were soaked. Thankfully, that’s when she got the call from Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) offering assistance to put them up in a hotel.

“The way that we were surviving through the nights was primal.”

Loretta describe the phone call from ADRN as “…such a blessing. Oh my goodness. It was like drowning and having someone put their hand out and pull you out of the water.”

ADRN provided rooms for her and her family in the Embassy Suites for several days, bringing them hot meals as soon as they arrived and fresh socks. She says they were asleep within 45 minutes. “I could breathe. I could look around and know my family is safe.”

Loretta expressed deep appreciation and inspiration for the mutual aid she experienced from her neighbors and Austin Disaster Relief Network. She believes that continuing to do that work together means that next time we experience a disaster, we will be better prepared and feel less desperate.

“[ADRN] are helping people across the board…”

Loretta is cleaning up and restoring her family's apartment with the ongoing support of Austin Disaster Relief Network.

Reported by: Lauren Slusher