Teaming up: Texas House Republicans and Democrats coordinate water distribution for Austin area

State & Regional

Water jugs wait outside the Texas Capitol on Feb. 22, 2021, to be dropped off to Austin-area families in need after a winter storm left millions with plumbing problems. The Texas House Republican Caucus and Texas House Democratic Caucus teamed up to organize the distribution. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — In a building where Republicans and Democrats are prone to disagree, leaders on both sides of the aisle are lending support to a bipartisan water distribution effort following the winter storm which left millions without power and water.

The Texas House Republican Caucus and Texas House Democratic Caucus teamed up to round up water jugs from state lawmakers’ Capitol offices and offices in the greater legislative community.

“A lot of offices just store considerable amount of water, but there are people that desperately need it at this time,” said Jordan Wat, Texas House Republican Caucus executive director. “So we want to respond immediately.”

The caucuses delivered more than 115 five-gallon jugs Saturday, distributing them to senior centers, apartment buildings and shelters lacking water. They hoped to match that total on Monday, too.

“Public leadership needs to be about public service, and so one thing we need is in the communities to go out there and make sure people have the basic resources they need,” Texas House Democratic Caucus executive director Phillip Martin said. “There’s legislative and policy solutions that we need to figure out later, but we still have some humanitarian crisis in the city, people who have gone without water for a week, and it could be weeks more.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, dropped off three jugs of water to the donation drive organized by the House Democratic Caucus and House Republican Caucus. He posed for a photo with Texas House Republican Caucus executive director Jordan Wat (left) and Texas House Democratic Caucus executive director Phillip Martin (right). (Nexstar Photo/Frank Martinez)

“We need to help folks first and then figure out long term solutions down the line,” Martin said.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan donated three jugs from his office Monday morning, personally dropping them off.

The empty jugs are being sent to an Austin brewery, where they are filled up, then delivered, Wat said. Travis County officials are helping coordinate where drop-offs are needed.

The caucuses are weighing how many water distribution drives they’ll plan.

“Hopefully the boil water notices wrap up here soon and and there won’t be such a desperate need,” Wat said. “But for now, we’re happy to serve and help those folks out that need it.”

Photojournalist Frank Martinez contributed to this report.

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