Veteran volunteers help get water to hundreds of local households amid deep freeze

Submitted Report 

Last week, during the power blackouts that left millions of Texans without electricity, heat or water, VFW Post 3413 helped distribute hundreds of gallons of water to hundreds of local households, and were among the earliest in San Marcos to organize and share safe, clean drinking water with neighbors.

On Saturday alone, the VFW distributed about 200 gallons of clean drinking water and hundreds of bottles of water via a drive thru to anyone in need, along with non potable water for residents to take home to boil or use to flush their toilets.

VFW Post 3413 Commander Stephanie Brown, who served as a combat medic in Iraq, led the way in making sure residents had safe water to drink.

“A veteran’s drive to serve never goes away,” Jude Prather, Hays County Veteran Services Officer, said of her work last week.

Brown said she went to the VFW Hall Tuesday morning, initially to check the building’s pipes after the deep freeze and make sure they hadn’t burst.

“One I realized we had water running here, I immediately started putting it out on social media though our VFW page because I knew people didn’t have water,” she said. She and other volunteers stayed until dark that night, giving out water and bagging up food from the VFW dry pantry to distribute. 

Brown said she made a few phone calls to different local organizations Wednesday and that the operations “snowballed” from there, as groups dropped off water at the VFW for volunteers to give out to the community. Brown and a group of committed volunteers continued to show up to the hall every day for the rest of the week to give out water and food free of charge.

“Knowing we had it, we were going to share it. Water is a necessity, it’s not a commodity. So I wasn’t going to sit here and hoard what we weren’t using when we had the ability to share it,” Brown said. 

Scores of local veterans turned up to help out, along with Girl Scouts, community leaders, teachers and church groups, Brown said. One volunteer had a 55-gallon drum of water he drove around San Marcos and neighboring towns, distributing water to dozens of households who were unable to travel. Thanks to the community effort, the VFW was one of the earliest sites where residents could turn to for water and food during the crisis. 

“I think we were up and running before the city sites, just because I was seeing the cascade effect,” Brown said. “We knew the pipes were going to burst, we knew it was not going to be a short-term effect.”

Brown said VFW Post 3413 will continue to help out as San Marcos and surrounding communities recover from the deep freeze.

“We have a lot of love here, and we’ve got to share it,” Brown said.

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About Author

Megan Wehring graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Wehring is nearing one year at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch, covering all things local. This includes city council meetings, town events, education and human interest stories. Previously, Wehring worked at KTSW FM-89.9 (Texas State University's official radio station) for two consecutive years. She was a news reporter, assistant news director and monthly segment producer during her time at KTSW. Wehring is passionate about the local reporter aspect. With a heart for storytelling, she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are most important to the community.

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