The city of Angleton has opened a cooling center to help residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Nicholas.
The Angleton Recreation Center at 1601 N. Valderas St. will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday to give residents a place to rest and relax.
“We are offering showers, charging areas and water and snacks and just a place to cool off so that way people without power can have those amenities,” Recreation Superintendent Geri Gonzales said.
The rec center will resume normal operations Monday, but until then staff plans on offering a place for people to gather their thoughts and take the next step, Gonzales said.
“We have done this before; we did this during the winter freeze in February,” Gonzales said. “We opened up as a warming center and offered the same amenities. We just want to do our part to help the community as best as we can.”
The cooling center has already seen some residents taking advantage of the rec center.
“We haven’t had power in like a day in a half. I think it’s actually amazing, because not many people do this,” Christopher Sims said. “It’s kinda rare.”
If power is not restored at his house today, Sims said he plans to returning.
“I think it brings people together,” he said. “The more people that are here, the more people can talk to each other, build a stronger community pretty much. I think it’s great because more than half of Angleton doesn’t have power right now. It gives some people a place to have shelter.”
West of the Brazos, Wild Peach Elementary School will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday for people to rest in the air conditioning or charge electronics, West Columbia Mayor Laurie Kincannon shared on Facebook Wednesday evening.
The school will be serving hot meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., she said. Additionally, Columbia High School will open the girls locker room from 9 to 11 a.m. for those who need a hot shower. Towels are available but people should bring personal toiletries.
First United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center in Sweeny will be open at 10 a.m. Thursday and Friday for those needing to rest in a cool place, charge electronics or have a warm meal.
The center is located right across the street from the church at 207 E. First St.
“Plenty of outlets and seats to go around,” Pastor Quinn Peters said.
Face masks are encouraged and will be provided, but there is room for everyone to cool off, charge devices or grab a warm meal, church leaders posted on Facebook. Residents should bring their own chargers, but there are plenty of power outlets available.
Lake Jackson is also finding additional ways to aid residents, and partnered with H-E-B to distribute ice Wednesday morning. Thanks to a donation of a truckload of ice from the grocer, hundreds of residents got the ice they needed to keep things cool.
“We realized the situation with the power outage here in Lake Jackson, and H-E-B always likes to step up and try to do the right thing,” said Jeff Fishels, general manager of the Lake Jackson store.
Immediately after Hurricane Nicholas knocked out power to most of the city, the store sent out a generator to help keep water flowing to residents. With the immediate water need met, Fishels worked with City Manager Modesto Mundo to figure out what the next biggest need would be.
Despite the efforts of electric crews to get electricity flowing and repair the countless downed power lines in the city, power is still out for many and the need to keep things cold was the next urgent matter.
Within a few hours, Fishels ordered an entire truckload filled with 24 pallets of ice totaling thousands of bags.
“Some of these people have used up the ice they had prepared before the storm and need to keep food cold,” Lake Jackson Fire Marshal Will Ammons said. “Some medicines need to be refrigerated so that’s another big concern because those are the things people absolutely need.”
With the help of the fire marshal’s office and the Lake Jackson Police Department, the city turned the parking lot of the recreation center into an organized distribution point. Helping distribute the bags, life guards from the rec center donned safety vests and loaded every vehicle that come through with ice. Within an hour and a half of starting the distribution, only seven pallets of ice remained on the truck but cars were still rolling through the line.
“At one point, we had a line all the way out to Medical Drive on Oak Drive because that many people needed this ice,” Ammons said. “Thanks to all the hard work of these volunteers, we got everyone through very quickly.”
While speed and safety was on the mind of public safety workers, helping those in need was guiding Fishels.
“The city has always been good to us and we want to do the same for them when they need it,” he said. “We’re very thankful of how this community treats us — they treat us very well — so we’ve got to do the same thing in return.
“As of right now, we’re still in contact with the city as they evaluate everything and see what else they may need; we’ll do whatever it takes.”