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  • Over 400,000 need urgent aid in Central America

    Some 140,000 homes were destroyed by storms Eta and Iota and 330,000 people remain cut off from emergency assistance.

    More than 400,000 people in Honduras and Guatemala are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, a refugee rights group said on Wednesday, over a month after two major tropical storms inflicted widespread devastation on the two Central American countries.

    In a news release citing new United Nations data, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said 140,000 homes were destroyed by deadly storms Eta and Iota and 330,000 people have been cut off from emergency assistance as a result of damaged roads and communication systems in Honduras.

    “The situation is utterly dire,” Dominika Arseniuk, the NRC’s Country Director for Central America and Colombia said in a news release. “Entire communities have been cut off by floods and landslides. Hundreds of thousands of people are yet to receive humanitarian assistance, thousands are sleeping on the streets and under bridges.”

    Eta and Iota killed more than 200 people in Central America, according to news reports, and caused heavy damage to infrastructure and homes in countries already battling poverty and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Even before the storms hit, 5.2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing chronic poverty, gang violence and climate change.

    More recently, coronavirus lockdowns have devastated Central American economies and pushed already underfunded health systems to the brink.

    In San Pedro Sula, one of the largest cities in Honduras, the NRC says hundreds of displaced families have been staying in improvised shelters. Others have been sleeping in streets and few have access to face masks, soap or clean water – critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

    Marlon, a 32-year-old man who fled the hurricanes with his pregnant wife and one-year-old daughter, told the NRC that his family had lost their home and most of their belongings in the recent floods.

    “We slept outside a building without having any food. We managed to bring some clothes for my daughter, but my wife and myself only had what we were wearing,” he said. “That first night, the rain poured down on us and we have been living on the streets since then.”

    The NRC – along with 12 other international organisations, according to the news release – has urged the UN to develop a funding plan to boost coordinated humanitarian response efforts for the region.

    “This region has been completely neglected by the international community,” Arseniuk said. “It has one of the highest levels of people leaving and seeking asylum in the world. The number of violent crime-related deaths is higher than in many of the world’s worst war zones. And it is one of the most affected by extreme weather events, as we’ve seen this year,” she added.

    “What more does it take for the humanitarian community to step up?” she asked.:

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    • Spain shovels out of snowdrifts left by Storm Filomena

      MADRID – Emergency crews in central Spain cleared 500 roads and rescued over 1,500 people stranded in their vehicles, allowing Madrid and other areas on Sunday to slowly shovel out of the country's worst snowstorm in recent memory.

      After recording 50 centimeters (20 inches) of snow in the Spanish capital between Friday night and Saturday, Madrid and a large swathe of the country remained impassable Sunday, with roads, rail lines and air travel disrupted by Storm Filomena. The blizzard has been blamed for four deaths.

      Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos said by Sunday crews had cleared two runways at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport and, weather permitting, service would slowly return sometime between Sunday evening and Monday.

      Trains traversing the capital were to start gradually coming back online Sunday afternoon, Ábalos said, but the important high-speed line linking Madrid with Barcelona remained out of operation.

      More than 150 roads were still impassable Sunday. Authorities said all trips by car should be postponed and tire chains were obligatory for journeys that could not be avoided. They said all people trapped in their cars by the snow had been rescued, but hundreds of cars needed to be recovered after being abandoned by drivers.:
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • From extreme heat to flooding, wild weather events sweep Australia

        Parts of Australia’s east and west coasts are set to swelter, with temperatures exceeding 40C in some parts of NSW.

        Scorching temperature have already hit regional areas of NSW, with White Cliffs expected to top 40C again on Thursday before cooling down into the low 30s for the next few days.

        This year has been relatively cooler and wetter than the last due to La Nina, meaning there’s been less bushfire activity.

        “This time last year we saw the Black Summer bushfires across the east coast and ongoing hot and dry conditions for much of Australia,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jonathan How said.

        “We have started the year very cool, but that’s good news because we’re not seeing those devastating bushfires.”
        But there are still concerns, with hot, dry and windy conditions prompting a total fire ban in the Southern Riverina on Wednesday.

        The warning was removed on Thursday, but a “very high” fire risk remains in several regions, including the Southern Ranges and Eastern Riverina.

        Mr How said the worst of the heatwave was over but warm temperatures would linger in inland parts of NSW.

        “We will see that heat moving into southern parts of Queensland over the next few days. Not quite heatwave territory but still pretty hot to getting up near the high 30s or low 40s,” he told NCA NewsWire.

        NSW residents are not the only ones sweating through the heat.

        In Western Australia, Port Hedland is experiencing temperatures above 40C.

        “Generally, we do see temperatures in this range every year, particularly in January. Places like Marble Bar are the hottest places in the country,” Mr How said.:

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        • Thousands of SCE customers at risk of power shutoff as Santa Ana winds, hot weather prompt warning of ‘high fire danger’

          A red flag warning is in effect Friday and tens of thousands of households are at risk of having their power temporarily shut off as a combination of Santa Ana winds and high heat spurred concerns about dangerous fire conditions across Southern California.

          Those weather conditions have already helped fuel two brush fires that have burned in separate parts of the region in the past 24 hours.

          The first blaze, the Erbes Fire in Thousand Oaks, threatened homes and prompted evacuations when it erupted shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. The fire scorched 250 acres before forward progress was halted and evacuations lifted.

          It was fully contained by 5 p.m., according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

          Another fire, the Bonita Fire, broke out in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild around 1:15 a.m. Friday. The blaze has charred at least 715 acres and was 20% contained as of 6 p.m., when the Riverside County Fire Department last provided an update.

          The combination of hot, dry and windy weather has prompted the National Weather Service to warn that the “high fire danger” will last through Saturday.

          That has led Southern California Edison to initiate power shutoffs.

          As of 4:20 p.m., nearly 5,500 customers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties were without service, according to SCE’s website. But power was restored to all but 39 customers in L.A. County by 10:30 p.m.

          The utility also said it is considering cutting power in those four counties, plus Orange County, in the next 48 hours.

          As of 10:30 p.m., SCE estimated more than 22,000 customers would be impacted. At one point, more than 100,000 customers were at risk of losing service.

          The potential action comes as unseasonably hot temperatures will warm up the area again, with highs ranging from the 70s to the 90s throughout the region, forecasters said.

          Several parts of the region saw daily record-highs, including downtown L.A. Los Angeles International Airport, UCLA, Long Beach, Burbank, Camarillo and the weather service’s office in Oxnard.

          National Weather Service officials later said Camarillo was the hottest spot in the nation Friday, reaching a “steamy” 94 degrees. Camp Pendleton also hit 94.

          Southern California will experience another day of strong Santa Ana winds, though the current event is calming down, according to forecasters.

          Winds blowing out of the northeast are forecast to reach speeds of 30 to 45 mph, with isolated gusts of 60 mph possible.

          In the overnight hours, when winds were stronger, forecasters recorded at least four gusts of 80 mph or above.

          Conditions also remain extremely dry, with relative humidity expected to drop to single-digits in parts of the area, according to NWS.

          The red flag warning was initially scheduled to expire around 4 p.m. Friday but has been extended by 24 hours.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Tropical cyclone forms in far-north Queensland as more storms forecast for state's south-east

            A tropical cyclone has formed off the coast of far-north Queensland, with residents told to prepare to bunker down for gale-force winds and heavy rain.

            The Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday declared the formation of tropical cyclone Kimi – a category one system – about 140km north-east of Cooktown.

            Kimi is expected to creep south-west and cross the north tropical coast between Cape Flattery and Port Douglas on Monday morning.

            The bureau warned it may rise to a category two rating before crossing.

            Cape Melville and Cardwell residents were advised on Sunday fternoon to immediately start preparing for the cyclone, securing boats and property during daylight hours.

            Gale-force winds up to 120km/h were tipped to hit those areas from Sunday evening and extend to Palmerville and Chillagoe on Monday as the cyclone moved inland.

            A flood watch was also activated, with heavy rainfall forecast about coastal and adjacent inland areas between Cape Flattery and Cardwell from Sunday afternoon.

            Other towns within the warning area include Cooktown, Cairns and Innisfail.

            Meteorologist Kimba Wong said minor to moderate flooding and disruption to transport routes were possible within that zone.

            It came as the bureau warned of more potentially severe thunderstorms for south-east Queensland on Sunday afternoon and Monday.

            There were reports of 2-3cm of hail at Edens Landing, south of Brisbane, on Saturday as thunderstorms hit the state’s south-east.

            Rainfall around Brisbane averaged 15-30mm, while 30-60mm totals were felt further north on the Sunshine Coast.

            Despite the rain, Brisbane had its hottest day since 16 December 2019 as the mercury topped 35.3C on Saturday.

            Wong expected heatwave conditions to continue in the state’s north-west before easing by midweek.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Extreme weather: World’s ocean temperatures hit record high in 2020
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Thousands evacuated as Storm Christoph hits Manchester, Wales and Merseyside

                Hundreds of people were told to leave their homes overnight as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK.

                Some 2,000 properties in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester were ordered evacuated on Wednesday night because of rising water levels, the city council said.

                People were also asked to leave their homes in parts of Ruthin and Bangor on Dee in North Wales, and Maghull in Merseyside.

                It comes as heavy rain and snow continued to fall across England and Wales, with many rivers at “dangerously high levels” according to the Environment Agency.

                Four “severe” flood warnings for danger to life were issued by the agency for the river Mersey at Didsbury and Northenden, and in Maghull.

                A fifth was issued by Natural Resources Wales for Bangor on Dee.

                Boris Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so.

                The Lib Dem councillor Richard Kilpatrick said he was among those who had to evacuate overnight after police came knocking on doors in The Beeches in Didsbury, with the local mosque opening its doors.

                He told Manchester Evening News: “The atmosphere has been a mixture of anxiety and disbelief I think. I helped door knocking to inform residents.

                “We are fine and spirits are high. We just don’t expect it to happen here, the defences have always been enough.”

                North Wales police said its officers were helping the fire service to evacuate homes in Ruthin, Denbighshire, and urged people to avoid the area. The force tweeted: “Officers have been called to assist DenbighshireCC and NWFRS in Ruthin, where some homes are being evacuated.

                “Regrettably, people who do not live locally are driving to the area to ‘see the floods’. Please do not stretch our resources by adding to the problem.”

                The force also urged residents of Bangor on Dee to head to Ysgol Sant Dunawd for shelter after the severe flood warning was issued for the area.

                Wrexham Council said it was “working with partners to address any need for temporary rest centres for residents likely to be affected”.

                Meanwhile residents in Maghull were advised to leave their properties as soon as possible after a severe flood warning was issued, Sefton council said.

                A council spokesman said heavy rain had led to raised water levels and flooding from the River Alt which was set to increase.

                “Water levels at Dover Brook, near the river Alt, reached 2.5m today, which is unprecedented for that area, modelling from the Environment Agency, including anticipated overnight rainfall, will take that level to 3.5m,” the spokesman said.

                Downing Street said Covid-secure facilities would be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather.

                Johnson said steps were being taken to ensure the transport and energy networks were prepared so that electricity outages would not be “severe” and that there were sufficient supplies of sandbags.

                He told reporters: “There are some times where I have been to scenes where, alas, people have decided not to obey the advice and not evacuated. It is their right not to do so if they choose – it’s always people’s right to stay wherever they are.

                “But it really is advisable – follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so.”

                The Environment Agency has issued a further 191 flood warnings across England, with 228 less severe flood alerts, mainly across the Midlands and north of the country.

                In Wales, 48 flood warnings and 57 flood alerts are in place, while six flood alerts are in force in Scotland.

                Almost the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to yellow weather warnings for rain until Thursday morning, with a more serious amber warning stretching from the east Midlands to the Lake District.

                The amber alert warns of the risk of flooding and deep flood waters which could pose a risk to life, and there are further warnings for snow and ice in Scotland.

                An amber warning for snow in parts of southern Scotland warned around 30cm could fall in areas above 400m, with up to 10cm likely to accumulate in lower regions until 8am on Thursday.

                Dark and dank:
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Cyclone Eloise brings floods to Mozambique's second city Beira

                  Parts of central Mozambique have been flooded after Cyclone Eloise struck near the port city of Beira with wind speeds of up to 160km/h (100mph).

                  Beira received 250mm (10 inches) of rain in 24 hours, according to Mozambique's National Institute of Meteorology (INAM).

                  Local officials and aid agencies are assessing the scale of the damage so they can help those affected, and trying to restore power and communications, which were cut off in some areas.

                  Four people have been killed, according to local officials.

                  The cyclone has now been downgraded to a tropic storm and was forecast to be heading towards Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, which have already experienced heavy rainfall.

                  Chris Neeson, who works for the UN in Beira said: "It was impossible to sleep because of the noise and fear."

                  "I heard so much wind and rain in the early hours of the morning. Water entered my home, as well as rocks and leaves that had flown off my neighbours' homes. Electricity has been down from last night and we've been unable to make calls.

                  "When I went outside, there was water everywhere - up to my knees - and trees, electrical wires, roof tiles, and fences all destroyed, strewn about on the streets. Thank God it has stopped raining. I never thought I would be afraid of water, but this was horrible," he said.

                  Residents of Beira, Mozambique's second city with a population of about 500,000, are trying to clean up as best they can.

                  More than 1,000 houses have been totally destroyed and another 3,000 badly damaged, according to Antonio Beleza, from Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Management and Reduction. He said more than 160,000 people had been directly affected.

                  Some are salvaging what they can from their flooded homes.

                  Water levels were already high, even before the cyclone made landfall on Saturday.

                  The region is still recovering from two devastating cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, which hit in 2019, killing hundreds and forcing many thousands from their homes.:
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                  • UN: 250,000 People Affected by Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique

                    Cyclone Eloise has affected 250,000 people in the Mozambique port city of Beira and surrounding areas and damaged or destroyed 76 health centers and 400 classrooms, a senior U.N. official said Tuesday.

                    "We also see widespread floods that are still there," Myrta Kaulard, the U.N. resident coordinator in the African country, told U.N. correspondents in a virtual briefing from the capital Maputo. "And what we can see is a lot of people trying to get out of the flooded areas."

                    Residents of the Praia Nova neighbourhood seek shelter and protection from Tropical Cyclone Eloise, in Beira, Mozambique,…

                    She said that "nearly two years ago Cyclone Idai devastated exactly the same areas that are now affected." Hundreds of people were killed by Idai, one of the Southern Hemisphere's worst cyclones that flooded much of Beira, collapsing homes or washing many away.

                    In December, Cyclone Chalane hit the same area, Kaulard said. Then there was flooding about a week or 10 days ago, and on Saturday Cyclone Eloise passed through.

                    She said the number of people affected rose from 170,000 on Monday to 250,000 on Tuesday, including 18,000 who are internally displaced.

                    What's needed now, Kaulard said, are tents, emergency shelter, blankets, drinkable water, hygiene products, sanitation, face masks and food.

                    "We also need to rebuild schools as soon as possible," she said, explaining that the school year begins in March and many students missed 2019 and 2020 and were looking forward to classes resuming. She said health centers must also be quickly fixed.

                    Aerial view of flooding after Tropical Cyclone Eloise, in Beira, Mozambique January 22, 2021 in this image obtained from social…

                    Kaulard said assessments are still going on including the extent of flood damage to crops, which are due to be harvested in April. If the water stays, she said, this could have "a very devastating impact on the harvest.

                    "Basically, this is really a very bad wake-up call of how much Mozambique is exposed to climate, and this yearly rendezvous with the cyclonic season is just too frequent for recovery to progress," Kaulard said.

                    This is just the beginning of the cyclone season, which will continue into April, she said, "and the waters in the Mozambican channels are very warm," and the coast is 2,700 kms long.

                    Kaulard lamented that people had been making progress with their crops and rebuilding their houses when the latest flooding hit.

                    "These are very poor people that have become even poorer because of the damage," she said.:
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                    • 15 Of Yosemite’s Iconic Giant Sequoias Fall In Most Damaging Storm In Decades

                      A major storm system packing winds of 80 mph or higher has toppled some of the world’s most famous trees.

                      Yosemite National Park said 15 of the giant sequoias in the park’s famed Mariposa Grove fell in the storm last week, up from the two initially reported.

                      “We have extensive damage in the park,” spokesperson Scott Gediman told the San Jose Mercury News. “Millions and millions of dollars. There could be more giant sequoias down. We are continuing the damage assessment.”

                      No one was injured, but the Los Angeles Times reported that the park suffered its most extensive damage since the 1997 floods and will likely require some $200 million in repairs.

                      The storm system also did major damage to the surrounding local communities; one resident told the Fresno Bee the area was like a “total war zone.”

                      The park said on social media that none of Mariposa Grove’s “named” trees, such as the Grizzly Giant, were among the fallen. :

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • At least five dead in massive Texas crash after icy storm

                        At least five people were killed Thursday in a massive crash involving 75 to 100 vehicles on an icy Texas interstate, police said, as a winter storm dropped freezing rain, sleet and snow on a large section of the United States.

                        The number of injured was still unknown as police were still addressing the accident on Interstate 35 near downtown Fort Worth, police said. Police set up a reunification centre for family members at a community centre following the “mass causality” event.

                        I-35 is among several interstate highways that crisscross the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex, home to over 7,500,000 people.

                        The Fort Worth Police Department said in a tweet that anyone involved in a minor accident with no injuries should “exchange information and continue on safely. You can then notify your insurance when you arrive at your destination.”

                        There were several other crashes in the area due to the icy storm, local media reported.

                        ABC News affiliate WFAA said at least eight people total had died throughout the metroplex, including two fatal crashes in Dallas and another in Arlington.

                        Farther south, in Austin, more than two dozen vehicles were involved in a pileup on an icy road, and one person was injured, emergency officials said.

                        Elsewhere, ice storm warnings were in effect from Arkansas to Kentucky, while another winter storm was predicted to bring snow to Mid-Atlantic states, the National Weather Service said.

                        More than 125,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Thursday morning, largely in Kentucky and West Virginia, according to the website PowerOutage.US, which tracks utility reports.

                        Meanwhile, officials in central Kentucky were urging people to stay home due to icy conditions.

                        Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said state offices would be closed due to the weather. He declared a state of emergency, which he said would free up funding and help agencies coordinate as they respond to reports of slick roads and downed power lines.

                        Crews were responding to numerous calls of downed icy tree limbs and power lines, Lexington police said in a tweet that urged people not to travel “unless absolutely necessary”.

                        In Dallas-Forth Worth, local station Fox 4 News forecasts temperatures will remain at or below freezing through next Wednesday.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • UK weather: Coldest night since 1995 as -22.9C recorded - with three-day freeze to come

                          Temperatures plunged to below minus 22C last night following an "extreme freeze" - the lowest in more than two decades.

                          The icy lows come as Britain faces a further three days of cold weather as snow and ice remains a threat.

                          The mercury dropped to minus 22.9C (minus 9.2F) in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, the coldest temperature recorded in the UK since 1995, the Met Office said.

                          Forecasters said the last time a temperature below minus 20C was recorded in the UK was December 23, 2010.

                          Weather warnings remain in place across Britain until late on Saturday, with snow and ice expected to remain - causing possible power cuts.

                          Scattered snow showers and some sunshine is forecast for large swathes of Britain over the rest of today, with some light rain also predicted.

                          The Met Office said wintry weather could cause travel disruption have been issued for the morning, covering the eastern half of Scotland and England, Devon, and south-west Wales.

                          But, as the snow clears towards the east through the morning, it could become "quite pleasant outside with the sunshine, although still bitterly cold" in western areas, according to meteorologist Clare Nasir.

                          The latest plunge in temperatures comes after Tuesday night, when minus 17.1C (1.2F) was recorded in the Scottish Highlands.

                          That marked the coldest temperature recorded in the UK since January 2010, when the mercury dropped to minus 22.3C (minus 8.1F).

                          Cities such as Manchester and Carlisle may drop to minus 4C (24.8F) on Thursday, and York is expected to have lows of minus 6C (21.2F).

                          Nine flood warnings, where flooding is likely, and 88 flood alerts, indicating that flooding is possible, have also been issued for locations across England by the Environment Agency, but none were in place for the other UK nations on Wednesday night.

                          The forecast prompted responses from local councils in England, with residents warned to take "extra care" while the cold snap lasts.

                          Ms Nasir said that on Friday and over the weekend the weather is expected to turn "quite hazardous" as "an area of cloud and rain" coupled with extremely cold air brings further risk of snow, and "perhaps even of freezing rain".

                          The Centrepoint charity for homeless youth has urged people to contact them or Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 if they see people living out in the cold.

                          Charities have also advised offering anyone sleeping rough a hot drink, meal, blankets or clothing.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • At least 12 animals dead at San Antonio primate sanctuary after winter storm cuts off power

                            Approximately 12 animals — including a chimpanzee, monkeys and lemurs — have died at a San Antonio primate sanctuary after winter storms cut off heat and electricity amid plunging temperatures in Texas.

                            Primarily Primates, a nonprofit sanctuary in Bexar County, said in a Wednesday statement that it lost power early Monday morning during the "historic freeze," which is also blamed in the deaths of at least 20 people.

                            Single-digit temperatures were recorded in San Antonio, and the average has been hovering around 28 degrees.

                            Staff at the 70-acre sanctuary initially attempted to use generators, space heaters, propane tanks and blankets to keep the animals warm.

                            Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told The San Antonio Express-News that they decided later Monday evening to begin evacuating animals. Some were sent to the San Antonio Zoo and to another sanctuary near Oklahoma.

                            “I’ve never faced a decision like this,” said Chavez. “Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”

                            As they began rounding up animals for transport, they discovered several had already died.

                            “I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has,” Chavez told the Express-News on Tuesday. “Someone asked me how many animals have died. I don’t know yet.”

                            Primarily Primates was the first primate sanctuary founded in North America. The facility holds more than 300 animals, mostly ones that were abused or exploited for research or entertainment purposes.

                            The sanctuary's oldest chimp, 58-year-old Violet, was among the animals that died. She had previously been rescued from biomedical research and had pre-existing conditions. However, she likely died from a stroke and not hypothermia.

                            Tamara Kruse, assistant director of veterinarian care at the San Antonio Zoo, told the Express-News that some animals evacuated from the sanctuary were biting at their fingers and tails, which can be an indicator of frostbite. Some were also showing respiratory symptoms like wheezing and sneezing.

                            Several animals were treated with antibiotics, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and they all appeared to be doing better as of Tuesday night, Kruse said.

                            “We’re going to continue to let them settle in,” she said. “We’ll determine if there’s anything else we need to do if issues pop up.”

                            The remaining animals are being kept at Primarily Primates in heated bedrooms.

                            The organization is asking for donations of any available propane tanks, generators, flashlights and gasoline. They have also requested peanut butter, jelly and bread.

                            Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, which has managed the sanctuary since 2007, applauded the more than 60 volunteers who have organized assistance, some even driving in "treacherous conditions" to bring supplies.

                            "Their kindness brings some comfort during this nightmare. They are heroes, and so are our staff members," Feral wrote in a statement.

                            At least 20 people have died from the record-breaking winter storm that slammed the South and Midwest this week.

                            More than 3 million Texans remained without power as of Wednesday morning, according to

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                            • Dozens of Deaths Connected to Winter Storms This Week; 14 Million Texans Without Clean Drinking Water

                              The deaths of at least 59 people across a dozen states are being blamed on this week's pair of back-to-back winter storms and frigid cold that left millions of people without heat or clean drinking water.

                              The victims succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, falling through ice, car crashes, a tornado, a house fire, slips and falls and just plain cold.

                              At least three people in the Houston area died of hypothermia inside their homes, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. A man in Abilene was also found dead inside his freezing home, according to the Associated Press.

                              A barefoot man was found dead early Thursday in a parking lot in the Houston area, the Houston Chronicle also said. He was wearing a jacket, but no shirt underneath it. The wind chill dropped to 19 degrees that morning.

                              "This weather is not just cold, it’s deadly," said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

                              Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who oversees emergency management in the county, said 10 people had died of hypothermia. And the county has seen more than 600 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning.

                              In all, at least 59 people died nationwide because of the weather this week, the AP reported.:

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                                • President Biden declares major disaster

                                President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in Texas, clearing the way for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts in the US state.

                                Power is returning across Texas and temperatures are set to rise but some 13 million people are still facing difficulties accessing clean water.

                                Mr Biden has said he will visit Texas as long as his presence is not a burden on relief efforts.

                                Nearly 60 deaths have been attributed to cold weather across the US.

                                In a statement released by the White House, President Biden said he had "ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms".

                                "Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programmes to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," the statement said.

                                Mr Biden has been in touch with the mayors of some of Texas' biggest cities, such as Houston, Austin and Dallas, to ensure they have access to government resources, an administration official said.:
                                • AOC raises $3.2 million for Texas amid weather crisis

                                Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez traveled to Houston with a Texas-sized gift of support for the families suffering from the recent freeze, power outages and water emergency.

                                The New York progressive announced Saturday she raised more than $3 million in donations for relief efforts in Texas and more is still coming in.

                                "We hit $3.2 million in assistance for Texans across the state just last night," Ocasio-Cortez said at the Houston Food Bank Saturday morning. "I think this shows that New York stands with you, but the whole country stands with you."

                                She said donations were still coming in and she hoped they could even reach $4 million.

                                "We're in Texas so we got to go big with our support. And so we hope to go even bigger. We hope to hit even more," Ocasio-Cortez said.

                                She said 100% of the money raised through her vast political grassroots donor network will go directly to help Texans. The funds will be split among 10 relief organizations, including food, housing and eldercare support.:

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