Monday, February 15, 2021

City of Austin Operations and Guidelines for Managing Severe Weather



For immediate release:
February 15, 2021
Contact: Bryce Bencivengo, bryce.bencivengo@austintexas.gov | Matt Lara, matt.lara@austintexas.gov

 

City of Austin Operations Impacted by Severe Weather

 

City of Austin offices will be closed Tues. and Wed. due to severe weather.

Austin, TX – The City of Austin will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, Feb. 17 due to the severe weather that has impacted the region. The Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations and essential public safety services will continue coordinating and managing the City and County response.

Temperatures and weather conditions in the region for the next few days are still hazardous. With temperatures not expecting to rise above freezing, the public is urged to continue remaining weather aware and emergency prepared by monitoring the weather throughout the week.

Residents are also urged to stay off the roadways unless absolutely necessary. First responders are working to respond to calls as quick as possible, however they are also impacted by the same travel conditions. To help free up demand on 9-1-1 operations, Austin Police Department has asked the public to not call 9-1-1 to report power outages and only call 9-1-1 if it is a life or death emergency.  
 
The following is information for closures and impacts to operations across the City:

City of Austin
City Council work session, all City Boards and Commissions meetings, and the Joint Meeting with Travis County Commissioners Court on COVID scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, Feb. 17 have been cancelled.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Cold weather sheltering operations will continue for as long conditions dictate. For people who can safely travel and want shelter, please go to the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704) anytime to receive assistance.

Residents are urged to make the decision now, during daylight hours, if they are going to use the Warming Center to avoid travelling hazardous conditions at night. If residents decide to travel, be extremely careful, travel slowly, keep your distance from other cars, and be prepared for an emergency.

Bring a flashlight and car charger, additional layers of clothing or blankets, water, and snacks. If you choose to shelter with a family or friend who has power, make sure that you practice the 3 W's while in their home – wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands frequently.

Austin Energy
Overnight, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3. Austin Energy, along with utilities across the state, were instructed to begin rotating outages because there is not enough power available to keep up with consumer demand. The outages are likely to continue throughout the day.

ERCOT has stated outages may last through tomorrow afternoon. ERCOT will let utilities, including Austin Energy, know when we can start restoring power to customers. We will follow their guidance and will operate safely to restore as many customers as we can, being mindful of outage duration.
Austin Energy has provided more information on the situation here.

Austin Public Health
Austin Public Health (APH) is delaying appointments for COVID-19 vaccine clinics and testing sites on Tuesday and Wednesday due to inclement weather and icy road conditions.

Testing: Individuals will need to reschedule their appointment online for later this week.
Vaccine: APH will be in touch via email or phone later this week with information regarding appointments for vaccine doses as weather conditions improve.

The vaccine, once refrigerated, remains viable for 30 days. Those who received the first doses from Austin Public Health are assured they can receive their second dose from Austin Public Health. As a reminder, people can receive their second shot between 28 and 42 days after their first shot.

Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) services continue to be suspended and will resume as weather permits, possibly into the middle of this week. Affected curbside services include recycling, composting, trash, yard trimmings, bulk item, large brush, street sweeping and dead animal collections.
Customers are asked to leave any uncollected carts, yard trimmings, bulk items and large brush at the curb to allow our crews to catch up. If possible, customers should set their carts or other material out as usual but be aware that service has been delayed. If curbside services resume on Thursday or Friday of this week, ARR will begin normal operations for collections moving forward beginning with that day.

ARR has provided more information here.

Austin Water
Operations staff continue to monitor water usage and wastewater flow rates to quickly respond to changes as needed.

With local temperatures not expected to get above freezing until later this week, Austin Water is reminding residents to prevent property damage and uncontrolled water loss due to frozen or broken water pipes by following the tips below:

In Sub-Freezing Weather

  • Drip outside faucets 24 hours a day (5 drops per minute). Remove wrappings on outdoor spigots to allow water to drip to the ground. Where feasible, keep wrapping on exposed portion of the pipes that does not obstruct the dripping. Dripping faucets is not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours. (Be sure to turn off the faucets after the threat of freezing weather.)
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
  • In unheated garages, shut off water to washing machines. Water softeners should be drained and protected from freezing temperatures.
  • In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets. If possible, collect this water to reuse for other purposes.
 
Each individual property is unique. Please assess your situation and decide what is the best approach for you. If a water line breaks and the cut off valve does not work or the customer is unable to locate or operate the value, Austin Water is available to turn off the water.

Call Austin Water's 24-Hour Emergency Hotline at 512-972-1000, Option 1. For more information, please visit austinwater.org.

Capital Metro
Capital Metro's regular service will remain suspended with no commuter services until 10 a.m. Tuesday morning to focus on emergency operations.

More information and real time updates regarding Service Alerts can be found here.

Resources from City departments  
Ways to Help
  • If you have power, conserve energy to help stabilize the power grid for the rest of our community. Turn off lights, turn down thermostats to 68-degrees, close shades & blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows, turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances, avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
     
  • The Austin Area Urban League has launched an emergency donation drive, called the #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign, to accept monetary donations.
     
  • Austin's Free Lunch program provides home-cooked meals to people experiencing homelessness. Free Lunch is a business that cooks and delivers meals four days a week to the Esperanza Community, Visit https://freelunchatx.com/ to make a donation.
     
  • If you want to donate a warm blanket, Front Steps is accepting blankets at their downtown location, or you can order the blanket online and have it shipped directly to the shelter.


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