As the temperatures plunged early Tuesday, Marleny Almendarez held her son, Aaron, an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum, to keep him warm. Their Pleasant Grove home had lost power a day earlier.
Matthew, her 14-year-old, also slept in her bedroom. They shut the door to preserve heat and covered themselves with blankets.
When the sun started to rise behind cloudy skies, their pet bird, Little Rainbow, did not sing its morning song.
“We usually in the mornings always have to yell, ‘Little Rainbow, Little Rainbow, be quiet!’” said Almendarez, 38.
They wrapped Little Rainbow in towels, compressing his chest. But their colorful parakeet appeared dead.
With the temperature below 40 degrees, the mother could not allow her children to sleep in the cold anymore.
Miles away from Almendarez’s home, Gloria Sanders on Wednesday called 911.
The 76-year-old moved in with her mother two years ago after the elder woman’s dementia became more severe. And now the temperatures in their home were plummeting.
Police told her to follow them to a warming center close to their home. With the help of neighbors, Sanders got her mother inside her four-door Kia. Sanders’ mother, Maria Barajas, uses a wheelchair. She is 100 years old.
Once they were in the car, Sanders followed Dallas policeto a nearby rec center.
Sanders bundled her mother up in layers, placing a colorful ear warmer headband on top of her shoulder-length white hair.
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