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Community leaders create action plan to prepare for the colder months ahead

Tyler Fire Marshal says "it's our responsibility" to check in on those in our community before, during, and after an event.

TYLER, Texas — As the season changes and temperatures start dropping, many are reminded of February's winter storm. Local non-profits and city and county officials are preparing for the colder months ahead. 

February's winter storm devastated many in the state. Millions lost power and or dealt with water issues and more than 200 people lost their lives. 

The city of Tyler and Smith County released their annual cold-weather response plan but says the most common incident this time of year is household fires:

"People are using space heaters now. They're going to be cooking more next week. There's going to be a lot of cooking going on Thanksgiving," says Tyler Fire Marshal Paul Findley. 

Findley also says household fires occur due to holiday decorations such as garland and Christmas trees "being placed too close to fireplaces."

City and county officials are emphasizing community-based efforts. Findley says, "it's our responsibility."  to check in on those that fall in the vulnerable category [elderly, children, and people without housing] before, during, and after an event.

Organizations lending a helping hand say there was pushback from residents to stay in a shelter. 

Errin Dixon, Gateway To Hope Director says one of the main reasons is because they are "afraid of change and mental health." According to Dixon, 50 percent of their population struggles with mental health. 

To prepare for the winter months, Gateway To Hope is seeking coats, hats, gloves, shoes, and socks. Dixon says the socks went the quickest during February's storm. 

Gateway to Hope is accepting donations Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3 pm.