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It has been one disaster after another. But through it all, Cooke County residents came together to care for one another when it really mattered.

As we've been reporting the impacts of this week's two snowstorms, bitter cold snap and electricity shortage, we've seen volunteers step up in a big way to ensure family, friends and strangers wouldn't go without a warm place to stay and food and water to sustain them.

Emergency personnel from the city of Gainesville, with support from Volunteers In Service To Others, set up a spacious shelter at North Central Texas College for anyone without power or heat. Volunteers with St. Paul's Anglican Church in downtown Gainesville opened up the church all week as a shelter, too, and support from individuals and businesses, including a large donation of baked goods from Gainesville's Tom Thumb grocery store, kept the church supplied with food and water. Muenster volunteer firefighters offered rides to the fire station to anyone snowed in and in need of warm shelter. Utility line workers spent days and nights in the cold doing everything they could to restore power. Tireless employees at area stores like Lowe's Market and countless restaurants left their own homes, often dark and unheated, and braved the roads so that customers would be able to purchase necessities or eat a hot meal. And countless individuals took it on themselves to deliver food or fuel to neighbors and even strangers who didn't have adequate transportation for the snow and ice-covered roads.

It would be impossible to share a comprehensive list of stores, restaurants, organizations and individuals who have helped out this week, so we won't. Suffice it to say anyone who could offer help probably did. Those who asked for help are no doubt grateful for their assistance.

We acknowledge the situation we found ourselves in this week was appalling. We hope legislators' investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas proves enlightening and appropriate changes are implemented so this doesn't happen again.

But it could've been worse, and those who stepped up to share their resources were the reason it wasn't. Lives may well have been saved by people's efforts to keep their neighbors warm and well fed.

It's said that in some circumstances, the only thing we can control is our own response. In this case, that was true, and we believe Cooke County businesses and residents responded well. It's to everyone's credit that the best was made of a bad situation.

Going forward, many in our community will still need help to recover from the prolonged outages. Andrea Grangruth, executive director of Cooke County United Way, noted many families may have lost the food in their refrigerators or freezers, can't afford utility bills or have sustained damage to their homes from broken water lines.

“Those looking to help can donate food to the local food banks that gave to shelters, give monetary assistance online at cookeuw.org where the funds will be distributed to local agencies that can assist the community, or volunteer to help those local agencies providing support,” Grangruth said this week. She added baby formula, diapers and food have been in especially high demand.

“It takes a lot of hands to keep a community fed and warm,” she said. “I also believe that helping your neighbor, checking in on them and assisting them with their needs if you’re able to is extremely beneficial. Transportation, child care, and other acts of kindness within one’s ability has also been appreciated in difficult times like these.”

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