Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Severe Winds Pose New Threats to Power Lines

 

City of Austin Winter Weather Morning Status Update - Feb. 7 

A fresh bout of bad weather expected overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday morning could further destabilize compromised trees and power lines, risking additional power outages and complicating restoration efforts, the City of Austin is warning today. 

Forecasted rain showers and scattered thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and night – some of which may be strong to severe – could combine with damaging gusts of wind up to 35 m.p.h. to place additional stress on already weakened tree branches and bring them into contact with energy infrastructure such as power lines, power poles, and transformers.

“Our trees are vulnerable after the winter storm and may have broken limbs high up in their branches that cannot be seen easily,” said Juan Ortiz, Director of the City’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “With strong wind in the forecast, additional tree limbs may fall, potentially creating further damage and causing new outages. That’s why we’re asking people to be extra attentive today, and to bear with us while we address new challenges as they arise.” 

Residents are urged to: 

  • Be aware of their surroundings when out walking or in their yard.
  • Do not leave pets or children unsupervised under trees.
  • When possible, do not park vehicles under trees.   

As of Monday evening, 97 percent of Austin Energy customers had power. Since the beginning of this storm Austin Energy has completed over 340,000 restorations.

As Austin Energy continues to repair outages, crews are ready to respond to the incoming weather. The utility will assess any additional damage caused by Tuesday's forecasted thunderstorms and strong winds.

Watershed Protection 
Watershed has some concern about flooding Tuesday, and will be running emergency radio ads about potential flooding. Residents are asked not to block inlets with debris, so that rainwater can drain and not flood streets.  

Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) Continues to Lead Clean-up 
As of Monday, Feb. 6, 35 contracted and City crews were working to collect storm debris, and the number of crews will continue to grow in the coming days. The damage is widespread, and collections will take time. 

Debris collection routes are based on the volume of service requests in a given area. ARR will collect all storm debris properly placed at the curb on that same street regardless of a request being submitted for a specific address.  

Austinites can still submit for storm debris collection via 3-1-1 or by calling 512-974-2000. Residents are strongly encouraged to submit their requests through the 3-1-1 mobile app or at www.austin311.org, as 3-1-1 continues to experience high call volumes. 

Regular collection of trash, recycling and composting has resumed, including bulk and brush collections. As of Monday, three contract crews were working alongside City staff to expedite the collection of storm debris materials. 

Residents are asked to: 

  • Clear unnecessary items out of the roadways to allow ARR trucks to pass through and collect the debris at the curb. 
  • Slow down to get around. Drive slowly when approaching City vehicles and be alert to potential field employees working on the street. 
  • Place limbs at the curb ready for collection. ARR crews will assess and collect them as soon as possible. 

Austin Transportation Department (ATD) 
As of noon Monday, Feb. 6, the ATD had reduced the number of dark or flashing signals to four, down from a total of 118 at its peak. Temporary stop signs are installed at all the dark signals that do not have battery backup to put the signal in flash. Those dark or flashing signals are located at:  

  • Exposition Boulevard and Westover Road  
  • Davis Lane and Brodie Lane  
  • West 45th Street and Ramsey Avenue  
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Comal Street  

ATD crews have been working 24 hours a day across the city this week, visiting all 491 signals that had lost communication with the Mobility Management Center (MMC) (roughly half of the 1,100 signals operated by the City) and resetting dark signals. Staff have reset more than 200 signals total, about 66% of which needed a technician in the field. The other 34% have been reset remotely due to more advanced technology previously installed. Crews also responded to fix three signals that were knocked down in the roadway.  

Drivers are advised to: 

  • Use caution on the roads and report any dark signals to Austin 3-1-1 or by calling 512-974-2000.  
  • Treat all school zones as active during the start and end of the school day—even if the lights are not flashing—and adhere to posted school zone speed limits.  
  • Report any dark school zone signals to 3-1-1. 

Storm Debris Management in the Right of Way
On Monday, 171 employees from the City of Austin’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments were working throughout Austin to clear the public right of way of downed trees and debris. 

Beginning Monday, crews were deployed across Austin using a grid system approach to methodically confirm that debris has been cleared across the city. Teams are assigned to specific sectors of the city to clear obstructions and confirm when their assigned area has been cleared for mobility. Today crews assessed approximately a quarter of the city through this method. Crews also addressed an additional 70 debris removal requests today, totaling 950 requests addressed to date since the beginning of this weather event. 

Residents should continue to report downed trees in the right of way by calling Austin 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or using the 311 mobile app. The request will be routed to the assigned sector crews to help with our ongoing efforts. Residents may see trees placed on the side of roads so that Austin Resource Recovery can pick up the debris as part of our coordinated effort.  

Austin Water 
Austin’s water and wastewater treatment plants continue to operate normally, and water storage levels remain healthy. All Austin Water facilities, lift stations and pump stations, have been transitioned to permanent power. Back-up generators have been demobilized. 

All partial boil water notices, which impacted a relatively small number of water customers, have been lifted. AW is communicating with the affected customers via telephone, email, and doorhanger. Austin Water recommends that customers affected by the limited boil water notice flush their plumbing lines by running the bathtub faucet for two minutes before using the water. For additional information visit www.austintexas.gov/page/boil-water-notice-and-faqs.

Residents are encouraged to: 

  • Check for leaks in and around their homes.  
  • Report any water outage or leak in your neighborhood to Austin Water’s 24-Hour Dispatch Team at 512-972-1000. 

Development Services Department 
The Development Services Department is continuing to provide emergency repair resources for homeowners and businessowners at https://www.austintexas.gov/emergency-permits
 
Inspectors are available 24/7 for some emergency repairs. Call 512-974-2030 for electrical inspections or 512-974-1520 for plumbing and gas inspections.  
 
For questions, call 3-1-1 or the dedicated emergency repairs hotline at 512-974-1500, Monday - Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. As a reminder, permits are not required to start work on emergency repairs. 
 
As tree cleanup continues, there may be a concern about Oak Wilt, a potentially fatal disease for oak trees. While it is unlikely any trees were infected with Oak Wilt through wounds from storm damage, because both the fungus that causes it and the insects that carry it were probably dormant during the cold weather, residents are advised to:  

Emergency Shelter 
For individuals and families who remain without power or can no longer afford to stay in a hotel and need a place to shower or sleep, dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 to request overnight stays with Austin 311. 
 
Sleeping cots, shower facilities, food and water, pet sheltering, and charging stations are all accessible at emergency shelter. The City of Austin is working with community partners and volunteers to meet requests. Once a shelter request is made with Austin 311, residents will receive a call back from between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with information on next steps. 
 
Disaster Response 
The public is encouraged to help local government agencies get a full assessment of damage impacts from the storm. Individuals are able to report their impacts through the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT). Report ice storm impacts through the iSTAT survey here
 
Reporting damages to Emergency Management is voluntary, and is not a substitute for reporting damage to an insurance agency, and does not guarantee disaster relief assistance. However, contributions from the public help Emergency Management personnel provide a clearer picture of the extent of damage across the community, and it helps prioritize the deployment of emergency response crews at the local level as reports arrive. 
 
Red Cross: Residents can call 1-800-RED-CROSS to request help when they have been impacted by a disaster. For more information visit the Central Texas Red Cross Get Help page

Monday, February 6, 2023

Austin Code Department responding to service requests on priority basis

Feb 06, 2023 02:12 pm

AUSTIN, TX - The Austin Code Department (ACD) recognizes the significant impact that last week’s winter-weather event has had on the people and structures in our community and is eager to help restore both.

“As the City resumes normal operations, our department is continuing our regular practice of responding to calls on a priority basis,” said Acting Director Elaine Garrett. “It may take time for our community to recover, but we will work in partnership to ensure residents are living in safe conditions.” 

During the storm, Austin Code had a team of emergency field operations responding only to emergency and imminent conditions. The inspectors’ role after a winter storm is to respond to complaint service requests made to Austin 3-1-1 to verify if there are code violations. If violations are confirmed, the department works with the property owner and representatives to facilitate repairs needed to get the property back up to code. Common violations after a winter storm may include no hot water, burst pipes, and damages in the ceiling or walls due to fallen or broken tree limbs. Code teams have spent the past three days connecting with property owners and tenants to thoroughly assess properties. To provide community members with time to begin filing insurance claims and making repairs, ACD will refrain from issuing notices of violations until Friday, February 10. The department strongly encourages property owners with documented violations to use assigned inspectors as a resource in resolving their case. This includes making requests for timeline extensions.   

As of 8 a.m. on Friday, February 3, 2023, the ACD reported approximately 182 requests for service for potential violations following the three-day operational disruption. These requests include, but are not limited to, the winter weather event, and will be balanced with ongoing citywide response by the department.

For service requests related to homeowner-occupied properties, Austin Code will provide information from the Development Services Department about permitting for emergency repairs. For service requests related to tenant-occupied properties, ACD will both provide information on permitting repairs and follow up with the landlord on the status of repairs and an action plan.

Resources:

imagen de copos de nieve con las palabras Departamento de Códigos de Austin Actualizaciones Operativas

AUSTIN, TX - El Departamento de Códigos de Austin (ACD por sus siglas en inglés) reconoce el impacto significativo que el evento de clima invernal de la semana pasada ha tenido en los residentes y estructuras de nuestra comunidad y está ansioso por ayudar a restaurar ambos.

"A medida que la Ciudad reanuda sus operaciones normales, nuestro departamento continúa con nuestra práctica regular de responder a las llamadas de manera prioritaria", dijo la directora interina Elaine Garrett.  "Puede tomar tiempo para que nuestra comunidad se recupere, pero trabajaremos juntos para garantizar que los residentes vivan en condiciones seguras".

Durante la tormenta, el Departamento de Códigos tenía un equipo de emergencia que respondía solo a condiciones de emergencia e inminentes. El papel de los inspectores después de una tormenta invernal es responder a las peticiones de servicio de quejas hechas a Austin 3-1-1 para verificar si hay infracciones del código. Si se confirman infracciones, el departamento trabaja con el dueño de la propiedad y sus representantes para facilitar las reparaciones necesarias para que la propiedad vuelva a ser segura. Las infracciones comunes después de una tormenta de invierno pueden incluir falta de agua caliente, tuberías rotas y daños en el techo o las paredes debido a ramas de árboles caídas o rotas.  Los equipos del departamento han pasado los últimos tres días conectándose con propietarios e inquilinos para evaluar a fondo las propiedades. Para proporcionar a los miembros de la comunidad tiempo para comenzar a presentar reclamos de seguros y hacer reparaciones, ACD se abstendrá de emitir avisos de violaciones hasta el viernes 10 de febrero. El departamento recomienda a los propietarios con violaciones documentadas que utilicen inspectores asignados como un recurso para resolver su caso. Esto incluye pedir extensiones al tiempo dado.   

A partir de las 8 a.m. del viernes 3 de febrero de 2023, ACD reportó aproximadamente 182 peticiones de servicio por posibles infracciones después de la interrupción operativa de tres días. Estas peticiones incluyen, pero no se limitan al evento de clima invernal y se integrarán a la respuesta continua de toda la ciudad por parte del departamento.

Para peticiones de servicio relacionadas con propiedades ocupadas por propietarios, el Departamento de Códigos de Austin proporcionará información del Departamento de Servicios de Desarrollo sobre permisos para reparaciones de emergencia. Para las peticiones de servicio relacionadas con las propiedades ocupadas por inquilinos, ACD proporcionará información sobre los permisos de reparación y hará un seguimiento con el propietario sobre el estado de las reparaciones y su plan de acción.

Recursos:

Feb. 6, 2023 Information for Residents -- Austin Resource and Recovery Updates

Regular collection of trash, recycling and composting has resumed, including bulk and brush collections. As of today, three contract crews will be working alongside City staff to expedite the collection of storm debris materials.


Remember to compost as much spoiled food as possible. Recycle empty plastic, glass and metal containers in your blue recycling cart. Keep waxy paper, plastic wrap and Styrofoam packaging out of your green and blue carts.

Our crews are working to get Austin cleaned up as soon as possible, here's how you can help us speed up the process and keep our workers safe:

  • Follow set-out guidelines as closely as you can. We realize there may be space limitations, but the guidelines make it possible for us to collect the material with that equipment.
  • Clear unnecessary items out of the roadways to allow our trucks to pass through and collect the debris at the curb.
  • Slow down to get around. As always, we're asking Austin drivers to please drive slowly when approaching City vehicles and to be alert to potential field employees working on the street.

ARR customers can request a collection of large tree limbs due to the storm by calling 3-1-1 (or 512-974-2000) or submitting a storm debris collection request through the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app or at  austin311.org.

Limbs should be at the curb ready for collection. ARR crews will assess and collect them as soon as possible.

City of Austin Winter Weather Morning Status Update - Feb. 6

Downed power lines tangled in trees impacted by ice of Austin winter storm

The City of Austin and its partners have been working through the weekend to provide resources for those who continue without power or are otherwise impacted by the historic ice storm. An emergency shelter, food distribution and mobile charging station are now available. 

Emergency Shelter
For individuals and families who remain without power or can no longer afford to stay in a hotel and need a place to shower or sleep, dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 to request overnight stays with Austin 311. 

Sleeping cots, shower facilities, food + water, pet sheltering, and charging stations are all accessible at emergency shelter. The City of Austin is working with community partners and volunteers to meet requests. Once a shelter request is made with Austin 311, residents will receive a call back from City of Austin personnel between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with information on next steps. 

We know it is difficult for customers without power to make plans. Customers without electricity should make the best decisions for their household. We’re doing everything possible to restore power to all our customers.


Drive-Thru Food Distribution
The Central Texas Food Bank is conducting a drive-thru food distribution event this evening, Monday, Feb. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Delco Activity Center. 4601 Pecan Brook Dr.

Food is distributed first come, first served, while supplies last, with enough for approximately 500 households.

All distributions are operating as a drive-thru and food will be loaded directly into each vehicle’s trunk. Please allow appropriate space in your trunk before arriving at the distribution. Recipients will receive a mix of perishables and dry goods that do not require electricity to prepare. 

Vouchers will be provided on site to ensure no one unnecessarily waits in line. If you are unable to get food, please visit centraltexasfoodbank.org and use the Find Food Now tool or call 2-1-1 to find a food pantry near you.

Mobile Charging
Austin Energy has deployed a mobile charging station where residents charge their phones, medical  and other devices. Residents should bring their own cords. The station will be at the Tony Burger Center (3200 Jones Rd) on Monday, Feb. 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (southeast side of the football stadium.)

Austin Transportation Department
Austin Transportation Department (ATD) crews continue to make steady progress bringing traffic signals back into operation. As of 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5, 26 of the city’s 1,100+ traffic signals remain dark. Over the course of the week, ATD staff have reset nearly 200 total signals. Drivers are reminded to approach all intersections with caution and treat all dark traffic signals as an all-way stop. Crews have placed temporary stop signs at four major intersections where the traffic signals are not operational.

ATD staff individually checked all the city’s nearly 600 flashing school zone signals Sunday, Feb. 5, resetting as many as possible. Drivers should treat all school zones as active when school resumes this morning—even if the lights are not flashing—and adhere to posted school zone speed limits. The hours for school zones vary by the school but are generally between 7 and 10 a.m. and 3 and 5 p.m. If you see a dark school zone signal, please report the outage to 3-1-1.

Residents who are driving on Austin roads are asked to remember to slow down and move over for any utility crews working in the field to restore power. Video is available here to share with the public.

Disaster Response
The public is encouraged to help local government agencies get a full assessment of damage impacts from the storm. Individuals are able to report their impacts through the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT). Report ice storm impacts through the iSTAT survey here.

Reporting damages to Emergency Management is a voluntary activity, is not a substitute for reporting damage to your insurance agency, and does not guarantee disaster relief assistance. However, contributions from the public help Emergency Management personnel provide a clearer picture of the extent of damage across the community, and it helps prioritize the deployment of emergency response crews at the local level as reports arrive.

Red Cross: Residents can call 1-800-RED-CROSS to request help when they have been impacted by a disaster. For more information visit the Central Texas Red Cross Get Help page.

Austin Energy 
Austin Energy provided a Winter Weather Restoration Update on Feb. 5. More than 94% of Austin Energy customers currently have power. We are now focusing on the most complicated and time-consuming restoration efforts. Those efforts will continue to be challenging due to forecasted wind and rain. Based on current information, we expect to restore power to nearly all remaining customers by Sunday, February 12, with the exception of those in need of electrical repairs to customer-owned or maintained equipment. This estimation is based on the following factors: rate of restoration since the start of the storm, number of workers involved in the restoration process, a more complete damage assessment, and weather.

Austin Energy continues to prioritize critical loads while also focusing on those customers who have been without power the longest. Since the start of the storm, we have completed 308,000 restorations. We continue to restore power to customers and expect many of our remaining affected customers will have electricity before Sunday. The expected weather conditions this week may damage power lines and already weakened trees, causing additional outages, increasing the risk for our lineworkers, and slowing progress. Austin Energy will reassess the situation and provide a revised update midweek.

Visit austinenergy.com/go/restoration for more information about restoration efforts.

Customers without power can check the Austin Energy outage map and report their outage online or by texting 287846. Customers who receive a text that an outage in their area has been restored should reply OUT if they still have an outage. Smaller outages can continue after a major circuit has been repaired when secondary power lines or equipment have also been damaged.
 
If your property has experienced damage to electrical equipment, please call a licensed electrician. Individual repairs must be made before Austin Energy can reenergize power to your property. This may also affect power restoration to your neighbors. Review information on Austin Energy’s Electric Service Planning Application and Emergency Permits.
 
Crews may knock on residents’ doors to gain access to Austin Energy equipment, such as power lines in a utility easement located on a resident’s property. Austin Energy personnel will be clearly identifiable with badges and in Austin Energy vehicles. Residents are asked to work with them on allowing access as needed.
 
As crews work to restore power, circuits can become overloaded because of appliances, electronics, thermostats, pool pumps, pool heaters and vehicle chargers left on before the outage. This is called cold load pickup, and it may cause a second outage.
 
Customers currently without power can help avoid cold load pickup by:

  • Turning off thermostats.
  • Turning off or unplugging appliances.
  • Only leaving on one light to indicate when the power is back on.


Austin Water 
Austin’s water and wastewater treatment plants continue to operate normally, and water storage levels remain healthy. Power has been restored to most of Austin Water’s lift stations and pump stations, with only 1 station still powered by a generator.

Austin Water has also made progress resolving localized impacts in two small areas. In the Mount Larson area, water service was restored and the limited area boil water notice was lifted on Sunday, February 5. Within the Glenlake subdivision, service was also restored and water samples were taken on Sunday, February 5. Austin Water expects to receive lab results on Monday, February 6, and will notify the affected customers when the limited area boil water notice has been lifted.

Austin Water now encourages everyone to check for leaks in and around their homes. If you have a water outage or need to report a leak in your neighborhood, please call Austin Water’s 24-Hour Dispatch Team at 512-972-1000.


Repairs and Permits
The City’s Development Services Department will work retroactively with homeowners, business owners and contractors to permit and inspect emergency repairs to ensure work was completed safely. That means that work can begin quickly on repairs. Types of repairs that will require permits include:

  • Ruptured or damaged water lines
  • Main electrical service
  • Structural damage

Learn more about emergency repairs and permits here.

Storm Debris Management in the Right of Way

Nearly 300 City of Austin employees from Austin Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Watershed Protection and from the Texas Forest Service are working throughout Austin to clear the right of way of downed trees and debris. Debris will be placed on the side of roads so that Austin Resource Recovery can pick up the debris as part of our coordinated effort.

City crews will be working across Austin using a grid system approach to methodically confirm that debris has been cleared. Teams will be assigned to specific sectors of the City to confirm their assigned area has been cleared of debris. City crews will be clearing our entire City of obstructions throughout the week as quickly as possible.

Residents should report downed trees in the right of way by calling 3-1-1 or using the 311 mobile app. The request will be routed to sector crews to help with our effort.

Storm Debris Removal on Private Property
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) crews are resuming regular curbside trash, recycling, and composting service starting Monday, Feb. 6. Residents should set their carts out on their regular collection day. Typically, ARR will collect the contents of your green cart and up to 15 extra items placed beside the cart but item limits will be temporarily waived for storm debris collection.

Additionally, ARR crews and personnel from three external contractors are expediting the collection of storm debris materials. Because the damage is widespread throughout the City, storm debris collections will take some time.

Request a collection of downed tree limbs due to the storm by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via its mobile apponline request form or calling 3-1-1 (512-974-2000). Please have the limbs at the curb ready for collection at no charge to the customer. Debris should be cut and assembled using the following guidelines:

  • Branches and limbs should be between 5 and 15 feet in length. Branches and limbs longer than 15 feet should be cut down.

  • Tree trunks thicker than 8 inches in diameter should be cut down to 3 feet long or less. 

  • Stack loosely along the curb in one row, not more than 15 feet across and no higher than 4 feet, with cut ends facing the street.

  • Please don't block the sidewalk or extend into the street. 

  • To prevent damage to your property, keep items 5 feet away from your trash cart, mailbox, fences or walls, water meter, telephone connection box and parked cars. Do not place any items under low-hanging tree limbs or power lines.

The public is encouraged to follow the guidelines as closely as possible. Our crews are working to get Austin back to normal as quickly as possible. Here's how you can help us speed up the process and keep our workers safe:

  • Follow set-out guidelines as closely as you can. We realize there may be space limitations, but large storm debris is collected with a crane. The guidelines make it possible for us to collect the material with that equipment.
  • Clear unnecessary items out of the roadways. Please remove things like basketball hoops and parked cars out of the roadway when possible to allow our trucks to pass through and collect the debris at the curb.
  • Slow down to get around. As always, we're asking Austin drivers to yield when approaching City vehicles and to be alert to potential field employees working on the street. Please drive slowly when going around these vehicles and always remember to, ‘slow down to get around' to keep our workers safe.

Austin Water will accept brush for drop-off at its Hornsby Bend Biosolids Treatment Plant on 2210 S FM 973 during regular business hours, Monday–Saturday. The material will be composted and made into Dillo Dirt. Learn more at: austintexas.gov/brushdropoff.
 
Residents with physical limitations or financial needs requiring help cleaning up winter storm debris can request volunteer assistance through the Austin Disaster Relief Network.

Safety Information

  • Though the weather is warmer, certain road dangers still exist due to the remaining downed power lines. Trees have been weakened and may continue to fall people should remain aware of their surroundings. 
  • Watch the weather forecast. Trees are still vulnerable after the winter storm and may have broken limbs higher up in their branches that you can’t see. with strong winds and rain forecasted as early as Tuesday, Feb. 7 additional tree limbs may fall, potentially creating additional damage.
  • Food Safety: Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Find out what you can do to keep food safe during a power outage, and when you need to throw away food that could make you sick. Austin Resource Recovery customers can dispose of any spoiled food by placing it in their green composting cart for collection, and recycle the glass, plastic and metal containers. Place all plastic wrap, waxy paper and Styrofoam packaging in the trash.

Media Availability
To request an interview or to visit any of the City of Austin sites where assistance is being offered, please email media@austintexas.gov.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

City of Austin Winter Weather Morning Status Update - Feb 5

Disaster Declarations 
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and Travis County Judge Andy Brown yesterday signed local disaster declarations for this week’s winter storm. This is the first step in the process of seeking state and federal assistance for response and recovery efforts for the community. The City of Austin’s declaration, which has been certified by the City Clerk, can be viewed HERE

Yesterday, Governor Gregg Abbott issued an Ice Storm Disaster Declaration. The disaster declaration includes Denton, Hays, Henderson, Milam, Smith, Travis, and Williamson counties. Additional counties may be added to the declaration as damage assessments are completed.

"Through this disaster declaration, we will be able to provide additional assistance to Texans and communities who have experienced property damage and localized power outages from this ice storm. Texans are encouraged to continue reporting damages to the iSTAT damage survey so we can meet all needs in the recovery process." Learn more HERE.

The public is encouraged to help local government agencies get a full assessment of damage impacts from the storm. Individuals are able to report their impacts through the iSTAT survey, which is available HERE.


Austin Energy 
Austin Energy and other utility crews made significant progress overnight, working to restore power to affected customers Austin Energy is grateful for the increasing number of crews from other utilities who continue to arrive to help. MP Technologies and Tempest Energy join mutual aid crews from New Braunfels Utilities, CenterPoint Energy, Bird Electric, Renegade and CPS Energy in restoration efforts. More than 600 workers from Austin Energy and other utilities continued working through the night to restore power to more than 34.000 customers since 1 p.m. Saturday, bringing the total number of customers restored to 300,485 since the beginning of this historic weather event.
 
While 91 percent of Austin Energy’s customers now have power, restoring power to remaining customers will likely be more difficult and take longer. That’s because their outages are likely due to more heavily damaged equipment that will require complex repairs. For example, damaged power lines may be in hard-to-reach areas like a greenbelt or buried under extremely heavy debris that must be removed before restoration can begin.

Austin City Council Districts 4, 7 and 9 are hosting a power outage relief event from 9-11 a.m. at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection located at 2200 Justin Lane.
 
Residents should stay away from downed power lines in or near their yards. Call 512-322-9100 to report a downed power line; if the line is sparking, call 911. Never touch a power line or any items in contact with a power line.
 
Customers without power can check the outage map on Austin Energy’s website at outagemap.austinenergy.com and report their outage online or by texting 287846. Customers who receive a text that an outage in their area has been restored should reply OUT if they still have an outage. Smaller outages can continue after a major circuit has been repaired when secondary power lines or equipment have also been damaged.
 
If your property has experienced damage to electrical equipment, please call an electrician. Individual repairs must be made before Austin Energy can reenergize power to your property. This may also affect power restoration to your neighbors. Austin Energy’s Electric Service Planning Application form can be found here: https://austinenergy.com/contractors/electric-service-design-and-planning/espa
More information about permitting can be found here: https://www.austintexas.gov/emergency-permits.
 
Crews may knock on residents’ doors to gain access to Austin Energy equipment, such as power lines in a utility easement located on a resident’s property. Austin Energy personnel will be clearly identifiable with badges and in Austin Energy vehicles. Residents are asked to work with them on allowing access as needed.
 
Residents out driving on Austin roads are asked to remember to slow down and move over for any utility crews working in the field to restore power. Video is available here.
 
As crews work to restore power, circuits can become overloaded because of appliances, electronics, thermostats, pool pumps, pool heaters and vehicle chargers left on before the outage. This is called cold load pickup and it may cause a second outage.
 
Customers currently without power can help avoid cold load pickup by:

  • Turning off thermostats.
  • Turning off or unplugging appliances.
  • Only leaving on one light to indicate when the power is back on.


Austin Water 
This winter weather event has not impacted Austin Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants, and water storage levels remain healthy. Austin Water continues to work closely with Austin Energy to restore power to pumps and lift stations throughout our service area.
 
Until power is completely restored, Austin Water continues to ask customers to conserve water to reduce demand on the system. Ways you can conserve:

  • Shorten shower times
  • Avoid unnecessary toilet flushes
  • Avoid washing clothes for as long as possible
  • Postpone washing dishes if you can
  • Check all faucets, shower heads, and under cabinets for drips.
  • Check water heaters.


Austin Transportation 
As of this morning, 54 traffic signals remain dark; two traffic signals are in flash mode. Drivers are reminded to approach all intersections with caution and treat all dark traffic signals as an all-way stop.

Crews are spending today testing and resetting school zone beacons. However, there is concern several of those systems sustained damage during the storm. Drivers are asked to treat all school zones as active when school resumes.

Recovery Support


Repairs and Permits
The City’s Development Services Department will work retroactively with homeowners, business owners and contractors to permit and inspect emergency repairs to ensure work was completed safely. That means that work can begin quickly on repairs. Types of repairs that will require permits include:

  • Ruptured or damaged water lines
  • Main electrical service
  • Structural damage

Learn more about emergency repairs and permits here.

Storm Debris Management
Staff from the Texas Forest Service are spending today assisting in debris gathering and ensuring the right of way is clear. Austin Public Works has divided the City of Austin into sections to complete this assessment and will continue work throughout the week, scaling up citywide on Monday.

Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) crews are working tirelessly to collect storm debris and has enlisted the help of three contract crews that will be working alongside City staff to expedite the collection of storm debris materials. Because the damage is widespread throughout the entire City, collections will take some time. Here are some guidelines for storm debris set out correctly and collected as soon as possible. 
 
Typically, ARR will collect the contents of your green cart and up to 15 extra items placed beside the cart but item limits will be temporarily waived for storm debris collection.

Downed Tree Limbs: Request a collection of downed tree limbs due to the storm by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via its mobile apponline request form or calling 3-1-1 (512-974-2000). Please have the limbs at the curb ready for collection at no charge to the customer.

Debris should be cut and assembled using the following guidelines:

  • Branches and limbs should be between 5 and 15 feet in length. Branches and limbs longer than 15 feet should be cut down.

  • Tree trunks thicker than 8 inches in diameter should be cut down to 3 feet long or less. 

  • Stack loosely along the curb in one row, not more than 15 feet across and no higher than 4 feet, with cut ends facing the street.

  • Please don't block the sidewalk or extend into the street. 

  • To prevent damage to your property, keep items 5 feet away from your trash cart, mailbox, fences or walls, water meter, telephone connection box and parked cars. Do not place any items under low-hanging tree limbs or power lines.

  • Please ensure debris is not in the street or blocking the sidewalk.

Austin Water has also extended hours at Hornsby Bend Biosolids Treatment Plant on 2210 S FM 973 on Sunday for brush drop-off, from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM Material will also be accepted during regular business hours, Monday–Saturday. The material will be composted and made into Dillo Dirt. Learn more at: https://www.austintexas.gov/brushdropoff
 
Residents with physical limitations or financial needs requiring help cleaning up winter storm debris can request volunteer assistance through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. Complete this form: link.adrn.org/ws-cleanup-request

Safety Information

  • Although it is now getting warmer and the roads have begun to be cleared, certain dangers still exist due to the remaining downed power lines. Trees have been weakened and may continue to fall people should remain aware of their surroundings. 
     
  • Food Safety for Power Outages. Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Find out what you can do to keep food safe during a power outage, and when you need to throw away food that could make you sick. More information: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/food-safety-during-a-power-outage.html. Autin Resource Recovery customers can dispose of any spoiled food by placing it in their green composting cart for collection, and recycle the glass, plastic and metal containers. Place all plastic wrap, waxy paper and Styrofoam packaging in the trash.
News Conference 3:00 PM Today
The location for the news conference is still to be determined. Media members, please RSVP via email at media@austintexas.gov; a location will be finalized by 1 p.m. and sent via email.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

City of Austin Winter Weather Morning Status Update - Feb 4

Austin Energy 
Austin Energy and other utility crews made significant progress overnight, working to restore power to affected customers. Since 5 p.m. Friday, power was restored to nearly 51,000 more customers, for a total of 256,307 customers restored since the beginning of this historic weather event.

In large part, this progress was possible because as temperatures climbed, fewer trees and limbs fell on power lines. However, as crews continue their work, the outage restoration process will become even more complex. Restoring power to a single circuit may be a multi-day effort. This is because equipment may be in hard-to-reach areas like a greenbelt, or it may be buried under extremely heavy debris. One example of this is a 500-foot steel communications tower that crashed down on a three-phase distribution line, four spans of wires and five power poles. Repairing this site alone will take several days. 

There are about 400 lineworkers, tree trimmers and other personnel from Austin Energy and neighboring utilities working around the clock to get customers back online. Austin Energy is grateful for the assistance of neighboring utilities, including New Braunfels Utilities, CenterPoint Energy, Bird Electric, Renegade and CPS Energy.

Residents out driving on Austin roads are asked to remember to slow down and move over for any utility crews working in the field to restore power. More: https://youtu.be/k20e4hfBIm0.  

Additionally, crews may be knocking on residents’ doors in order to access Austin Energy equipment, such as energy equipment in a backyard or a utility easement located on a resident’s property. Austin Energy personnel will be clearly identifiable with badges and in Austin Energy vehicles. Residents are asked to work with them on allowing access as needed.  

As crews work to restore power, circuits can become overloaded because of appliances, electronics, thermostats, pool pumps, pool heaters and vehicle chargers left on before the outage. This is called cold load pickup and it may cause a second outage.  

Customers currently without power can help avoid cold load pickup by: 

  • Turning off their thermostats. 
  • Turning off or unplugging any fixtures or appliances. 
  • Only leaving on one light to indicate when the power is back on. 

Austin Water 
This winter weather event has not impacted Austin Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants, and the Water Treatments Plants continue to meet expected production rates. Water storage levels remain healthy in the distribution system. Austin Water continues to work closely with Austin Energy to restore power to pumps and lift stations throughout our service area. 

Crews continue work to restore power at two small drinking water pump stations. About 40 customers are affected in the Glenlake subdivision and the Mount Larson area. Austin Water has continued to be in contact with these customers about additional needs for bottled water. These were isolated events that did not extend to a city-wide boil water notice. 

Austin Water continues to ask customers to conserve water. This helps to reduce demand on the system while we work through intermittent power outages. As the weather warms up and you get back to regular activities, please take it easy with your water use. 

Austin Transportation 
As of this morning, 74 traffic signals remain dark due to ongoing power outages. Austin Transportation Department (ATD) crews are working in the field to reset dark traffic signals back into operation when power is restored, and they will continue their work until signals are fully operational. ATD crews have reset 187 signals since Monday, Jan. 30. 

Because of the ongoing power outages, about 35% of the City’s more than 1,100 traffic signals are unable to communicate with ATD’s Mobility Management Center – meaning ATD needed boots on the ground to manually check if the signals are functioning. All 413 of the signals out of communication have been checked to see if they are dark, flashing or active. Please treat dark or flashing signals as all-way stops.

Recovery Support 

  • The Central Texas Food Bank is today running two special food distributions to assist Austin area residents experiencing power outages: 
    9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Onion Creek Soccer Complex, 5600 E William Cannon Dr. 
    1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Nelson Field, 7105 Berkman Drive 
    Alternatively, anyone needing food can find access Food Bank resources at http://centraltexasfoodbank.org/findfood 

  • Red Cross: Residents can call 1-800-RED-CROSS to request help when they have been impacted by a disaster. For more information visit the Central Texas Red Cross Get Help page

Storm Debris Management and Repairs 
Downed Tree Limbs: Call 3-1-1 to request a collection of down tree limbs due to the storm. Please have the limbs at the curb ready for collection at no charge to the customer. Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) crews are working tirelessly to collect storm debris and has enlisted the help of three contract crews that will be working alongside City staff to expedite the collection of storm debris materials. Because the damage is widespread throughout the entire City, collections will take some time. Here are some guidelines for storm debris set out correctly and collected as soon as possible. 
 
Typically, ARR will collect the contents of your green cart and up to 15 extra items placed beside the cart but item limits will be temporarily waived for storm debris collection.  
 
Residents with physical limitations or financial needs requiring help cleaning up winter storm debris can request volunteer assistance through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. Complete this form: link.adrn.org/ws-cleanup-request

The City’s Development Services Department will work retroactively with homeowners, business owners and contractors to permit and inspect emergency repairs to ensure work was completed safely. That means that work can begin quickly on repairs. Learn more about emergency repairs and permits here 

News Conference 3:00 PM Today 
The City of Austin is hosting a news conference at 3:00 PM Saturday, Feb. 4, at City Hall to provide operational updates on the winter weather response. More information HERE

Speaking at an operational update for media yesterday evening, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, said: “We still have a lot of work ahead of us as we continue to recover and assist residents affected by the storm, and that work also includes assessing our response to this week’s storm and identifying ways in which we can do things better in the future.” 

Local Disaster Declarations 
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and Travis County Judge Andy Brown yesterday signed local disaster declarations for this week’s winter storm. This is the first step in the process of seeking state and federal assistance for response and recovery efforts for the community. The City of Austin’s declaration, which has been certified by the City Clerk, can be viewed HERE

Safety Information 

  • Although it is now getting warmer and the roads have begun to be cleared, certain dangers still exist due to the remaining downed power lines. Trees have been weakened and may continue to fall people should remain aware of their surroundings. 
     
  • Food Safety for Power Outages. Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Find out what you can do to keep food safe during a power outage, and when you need to throw away food that could make you sick.  More information: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/food-safety-during-a-power-outage.html. Autin Resource Recovery customers can dispose of any spoiled food by placing it in their green composting cart for collection, and recycle the glass, plastic and metal containers. Place all plastic wrap, waxy paper and Styrofoam packaging in the trash.

Austin will expand work to make streets safer with $22.9 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that the City of Austin will receive a $22.9 million grant to make its streets safer for everyone.

The grant is part of the $5 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program, which was established as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In total, Austin Transportation plans to implement safety improvements at more than 60 locations through this grant, with at least half of project funding allocated to underserved communities.

"This is an investment in saving lives, especially by reducing too frequent collisions with pedestrians and cyclists," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin). "This federal funding supports City efforts to assure safer, more accessible and inclusive transportation for our neighbors across Austin, including economically disadvantaged neighborhoods where a disproportionate amount of traffic-related injuries and fatalities have been occurring."

Austin has a proven record of reducing severe crashes through its Vision Zero safety initiatives. Safety improvements have led to a 31% reduction in the annual number of fatal or serious injury crashes at major intersections and a 17% decrease in fatal and serious injury crashes on the city's High-Injury Roadways. Austin voters have consistently shown their support to make streets safer, approving Vision Zero safety investments in 2016, 2018 and 2020 Mobility Bonds.

However, much work remains in a city of more than 280 square miles and a rapidly growing population. Last year, 117 people died on Austin streets and hundreds more were seriously injured.

"As a member of the Austin City Council, I supported Austin adopting Vision Zero as a policy goal and establishing a new framework when it comes to road safety," said Rep. Greg Casar (D-Austin). "Traffic violence is a public health crisis that affects everyone, especially poor communities. I’m thankful to the USDOT for putting emphasis on resources where they are needed the most."

Austin's underserved communities continue to disproportionately die and experience serious injuries on the roads. Based on available data, the Black/African American community makes up a disproportionate share of severe crash victims and the Hispanic and Latino community makes up an increasing share of severe crash victims in Austin.

"This grant will accelerate Austin’s ability to deliver life-saving infrastructure improvements to our community. It is through a team effort that we will end the tragic and preventable fatalities and injuries on our roadway system," Mayor Kirk Watson said.

When it comes to evaluating specific locations and treatments for safety improvements, Austin takes a systemic approach. That means evaluating the safety and equity impacts of engineering treatments and selecting context-specific tools that are going to make the most difference. Those tools could include traffic signal installations, high-visibility crosswalks, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, added turning lanes, medians or other changes.

You can find the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation here.


The City of Austin Transportation Department works to provide a safe, efficient, innovative, cost-effective and sustainable transportation system that connects roadways, bikeways, walkways and transit systems in order to bring improved access and mobility to our community. We are taking proactive steps to engage and educate the community. Visit AustinTexas.gov/Transportation.

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