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February 22, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Recovery may take months even as more help reaches storm-hit Texas

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript of the video above, click here

Summary: President Joe Biden declares a disaster in Texas on Saturday, allowing affected Texans to apply for emergency grants for housing and low-cost loans to cover losses from the winter storm, which has left millions in the state without heat, power and water.

  • While power is restored to many of the millions who lost it in Texas last week, many are still without safe drinking water in their homes or other critical utilities.
  • The power outages and other utility failures affected millions of homes, but also hospitals, shelters and other critical infrastructure.
  1. Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:
    • Who is being interviewed in this piece, and what is his role in disaster response?
    • What are some of the long-term effects of the weather emergency in Texas?
    • When and where were power and other utilities knocked out by winter storms?
    • Why have these winter storms been especially damaging and dangerous in Texas?
    • How does a presidential declaration of disaster emergency impact response to the crisis?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

2. Focus question: What do you think federal and local authorities should do in response to an emergency like the storms in Texas, and what do you think private citizens and organizations can do to help?

3. Media literacy: Who is interviewed for this piece, and what perspective or biases do you think he brings to the interview?

Dig deeper: How can you help the people of Texas who are still struggling? Use this article here from PBS NewsHour as a jumping off point. You can also invent your own ways to help as a class using the Lemelson MIT Invention Process to help brainstorm ways to assist during weather emergencies, including by anticipating ways to help during potential weather emergencies in their own communities. Consider the examples of problems faced by Texans and create ways to address them through new technologies, policies, information campaigns or advocacy campaigns.

  • Concept phase: Identify a problem, conduct research and brainstorm solutions. For instance, what might be a unique problem of people trying to access emergency relief in your community? 
  • Design phase: Create a plan, calculate costs, select the best solution and determine necessary resources.
  • Build phase: Sketch, model or build a prototype. This could be a prototype of technology or organization that helps people get the relief they need (or reduce the impact on those who do not yet have access to relief).
  • Review and redesign phase: Review the invention for strengths and weaknesses. Present prototypes (plans) to the class and discuss ways to make each proposal stronger.

You can also review this resource on the link between severe winter storms and climate change: Is the recent wave of severe weather across the U.S. a harbinger for climate change?


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