(CBS LOCAL) – Thousands of sea turtles that were rescued from the freezing water off Texas last week are now being returned to the sea. Wendy Knight of the non-profit Sea Turtle, Inc. helped lead one of the biggest turtle rescue efforts in history.

She said it took “lots of community involvement” to rescue 5,300 sea turtles.

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The winter storm that hit Texas left the turtles “cold-stunned,” unable to move because of their cold-blooded nature.

“They’re no longer able to swim, so they float to the top of the water, and because they can’t draw breath and move their head to draw breath, they’ll drown in the water if not rescued,” says Knight.

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Despite Texans facing their own struggles due to the storm, volunteers started showing up, carrying the turtles to safety.

Knight says, “We were just overwhelmed with the outpouring of the community while they had no power, no water.”

When they ran out of space, the South Padre Island Convention Center helped house thousands more. So far, 2,200 turtles have recovered and been safely released. The remaining 3,000 turtles need additional care.

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Sea Turtle Inc. says it no longer needs volunteers or space, but the group, and other endangered species rescue organizations including Texas Sealife Center, always need donations.