120 Dallas ISD students still displaced after winter storm

Some families with Dallas ISD are still struggling to get their lives back to normal following the winter storm.

The district says about 120 students were displaced because their homes or apartments were damaged. Since then, about half of those students affected have found other places to stay temporarily. But the other half are still staying in hotels. And they’ve lost everything from school supplies to clothes and basic necessities.

When last month’s winter storm devastated North Texas, Dallas ISD says more than 100 students living at a Dallas housing authority complex were displaced due to water damage in their apartments.

"Their Chromebooks were destroyed. Trying to figure out how do we do that. How do we get online when their Chromebooks are not actually functioning," said Ashley Marshall, Dallas ISD homeless education program manager.

Dallas ISD assisted the affected students who had to be put up in hotels as they dealt with an unstable situation needing heat, power and clean water. Now even weeks later, working to meet their basic needs and bring them some comfort.

"Staying with their friends. Trying to figure out what they’re doing, and we’re trying to figure out how to help them," Marshall said. "Our biggest thing is trying to let people know it’s ok to ask for help. And that’s been our biggest mission this year because a lot of families don’t want to tell us they need help. Because they feel like if they tell us, we’re going to send them somewhere."

The district is putting out a call to the community to help fulfill those needs through donations on their Amazon wish list, asking for basics like shampoo and coloring books.

"The issue I think about is the kids have gone through COVID and not going to school and tornadoes and now this crazy storm," Marshall said. "Just the mental issue with kids, I don’t think we really think about that. Our kids are resilient, but I don’t know how resilient they are."

Since the storm, Dianna Smoot, Dallas ISD’s head of mental health services, says they’ve seen a noticeable increase in students coming to them for help.

"Across the board, we’re seeing upwards of 35-40 new referrals for mental health services every day," she said.

Though the weather has since warmed up and power is back on for many, Dallas ISD says many of their kids are still dealing with the effects from the storm.

"Find somebody you can talk about how that makes you feel. Don’t feel the need to carry that on your own," Smoot said. "If we have kids that are sad or worried or scared, there is no reason for them to carry that on their own."

For more information on how to assist Dallas ISD’s displaced students visit: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/genericItemsPage/23OTFWGS237UN?type=wishlist&_encoding=UTF8

You can find more information on Dallas ISD’s mental health services here: https://www.dallasisd.org/mentalhealth