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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: Help is on the way

By Kevin O'Toole, February 18 2021 9:03 am

We are all witnessing the unbelievable weather assault that has pelted much of the United States over the last few weeks.

The State of Texas was hit particularly hard. Reports indicate that upwards of 2.8 million people have lost power, including the ability to heat their homes. Record snow and low temperatures have added to the calamity for a region that last saw such a cold weather event in 1989.  Reports indicate that pipes froze and burst across the state and warming centers that opened also lost power in Houston.  As a result, police and others have been delivering blankets, cots, water, and other necessities to vulnerable citizens.  Ambulances across the state are unable to meet the surging demand and the county government in coastal Galveston called for refrigerated trucks to serve as morgues for bodies recovered in freezing, powerless houses.  According to the governor, “every source of power Texas has been compromised.”

I spoke yesterday with a friend from Houston and he reports firsthand that the Texas region is bad, and getting worse.  Joe L. is a seasoned professional.  He and everyone that works for him have weathered more than their share of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and the like.  Gritty and tough, they don’t worry often, but to Joe and everyone this feels different and people are worried – scared for their loved ones and themselves.  Even after our fellow Americans in Texas survive this crisis, the after effects for the homeless and needy will only magnify with compounding effect.  As Americans, we must to do something to help.  I am proud that as northeasterners, we have always had a soft spot for those in need of help, those in need of charity.  I view the events in Texas as our call to duty.

With that in mind I ask that anyone with the means to do so please take time today to make a nominal donation to a Texas charity or food bank.  The effects of your kind action will go so far and be felt by so many in need of critical help at this moment.  I have witnessed first-hand how far food banks and charitable entities can stretch every dollar for the people and communities they serve.  It is literally amazing.  As worthy organizations, we can recommend the American Red Cross for The Gulf Coast Region (https://www.redcross.org/local/texas/gulf-coast.html) ,  The Houston Food Bank (http://www.houstonfoodbank.org), Soul Food Café Mission (http://www.soulfoodcafemission.org/), Gulf Coast Community Services Association (https://www.gccsa.org/), North Texas Food Bank (https://www.ntfb.org/), and Central Texas Food Bank (https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/).

We just donated $10,000 to food banks in this effort and are sending care packages from our law firm to many.  As snow is piling up outside our own homes, its time to think about helping those that really need it now.  This is not the time to blame the power failure or lack of government or corporate preparedness on anyone and it sure isn’t the time to point out that Texas Politicians haven’t always supported or identified with New Jersey when we are facing our own crisis. The gentle human needs now are too real and too immediate.  Right now it’s time to lead by example in the spirit of northeasterners and New Jerseyians to all Americans that are suffering.  That need is critical to our friends in the Lone Star state.

Joe L, tell your fellow Texans that we feel your pain and that help is on the way.  It’s time to pay it forward.

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