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Hundreds Receive Food, Water in Willis

WILLIS- A long line of vehicles formed quickly in Willis on Friday, as storm weary residents sought assistance in the form of food and water. The line began at the Willis Community Center, the site of the event, and looped through parking lots and around several streets.

Jennifer Landers, with the Community Assistance Center, said Judge Wayne Mack contacted the agency, followed by the Montgomery County Food Bank, asking if they could get water to those in Willis who were struggling.

“The Food Bank stepped up and were able to get food sourced very quickly,” Landers said. “We put a call out to our volunteers and were able to come together very quickly.”

Within 24 hours, the agencies and officials managed to pull together resources and arrange to serve 400 families at that location. Similar events are scheduled through the end of the week, and on Monday, the food pantry and Community Assistance Center will reopen. Efforts to reach out to those in need by going to their areas will continue as well.

“We’ll continue to do mobiles and get food out to those who need it,” Landers said.

According to Landers, the need for assistance has increased dramatically since 2019, more than doubling from 17,000 individuals served that year, to a little over 38,000 individuals served in 2020.

“At the highest we were seeing 1,043 percent increase in food needs and a 643 percent increase in financial assistance (for rent, mortgage, and utilities).”

Officials at the event said many people were already struggling, having been impacted by the global pandemic, and now they have homes in need of repair from busted water pipes. On Monday, the Community Assistance Center will be in Montgomery with Commissioner David Walker and the Montgomery County Food Bank at the Lone Star Cowboy Church, where they plan to serve another 400 families.

Christine Marlowe, with the Montgomery County Food Bank said one of the biggest problems facing county residents was the lack of available water. Many currently have no water in their homes for basic functions, and are also in desperate need of drinking water, she said.

“Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management brought in pallets of water Thursday night,” Marlowe said, “and we sourced produce and food boxes from our food bank, from all of our amazing donors and are partnered with the assistance center to help the citizens of Willis today.”

Seventy agencies are partnered throughout the county to try and assist those in need. Anyone in need of assistance can go online to www.mcfoodbank.org  On the website, visitors can see a list of all the locations of food pantries currently open.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough was also on hand, and praised the efforts of energy providers the Office of Emergency Management, and everyone else working to assist communities throughout the county.

“We’re just not used to this kind of an event,” Keough said. “We’re daily seeing how many people are without water, how many are without heat.”

He said the overall picture was improving, but cautioned that more cracked pipes were likely to be discovered and to impact homes and businesses as the temperature continues to rise. Judge Keough said the county will continue to schedule events to provide resources in communities as sourcing and volunteering permits.

Constable Phillip Cash and his deputies directed traffic and maintained order on Friday, as they continue to serve their community regardless of conditions.

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