Taking a look at how 2-1-1 can help your family in times of need

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HOUSTON, TX - With hurricane season just starting and flood concerns spread across the region, 2-1-1 is a good number to know.

"The 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE is a free social service helpline available 24 hours a day, everyday of the year, available to help individuals to connect them with the resources they need in times of disaster and everyday life," said Mary Vazquez, Senior Director of Community Impact at United Way of Greater Houston.

The call line is available in more than 150 languages. Last year, representatives of the phone system answered 957,600 calls  for food, medical/prescription needs, utility assistance, rent/mortgage assistance and help finding temporary shelter.

Callers talk with trained call specialists to get more information and be connected with critical social services.

It's important to note that 2-1-1 serves a different purpose than 3-1-1.

"3-1-1  is available for help and information as it relates to city services, if you've got flooding in your street, if you have an issue with your trash can," City of Houston Office of Emergency Management spokesperson Michael Walter said. "2-1-1 is a statewide system that connects individuals with social services. In emergency times, we use information gathered from 2-1-1 to help folks in those disasters."

The 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE also helps with connecting people to food pantries, free tax preparation for low-income families, Veterans' assistance and more. For additional information, please click here.