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 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:
More information about permitting can be found here:
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:
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:

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: 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; a location will be finalized by 1 p.m. and sent via email.