Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to resolve outstanding power outages on the fourth day of a statewide energy crisis that has since spawned a related water crisis and threatens to create a natural gas crisis.
"We will not stop until normalcy is restored to your lives," Abbot said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which maintains about 90% of the state's grid, said they were no longer mandating power outages and had instructed local utilities to begin restoring power to impacted customers. Around 325,000 customers across the state are still facing outages, which Abbott said were likely due to local, weather-related problems that will require on-site repairs rather than outage mandates from ERCOT.
Austin Energy crews are in the process of restoring power and have made significant progress since Wednesday afternoon, when around 27% of its customers were impacted. As of 4:02 p.m. Thursday, about two-thirds of those have had their power restored.
Although the power crisis is improving, an increasing number of Texans are now facing a water crisis. Major cities including Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth, among others, have issued boil water notices. Tens of thousands of Austin residents don't have access to water at all, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Wednesday, and service restoration will be "a multi-day process."
Abbott said he is working on executive orders and waivers to address the twin crises, as well as meeting with organizations that may be able to help provide clean water to impacted residents.
Austin officials said Thursday that they have ordered bottled water from out of state, given the demand from other Texas municipalities, but it will take time for it to be delivered and distributed to those in need. In the meantime, Meszaros recommended the residents without water (or without the power to boil it) reach out to friends and neighbors who may be able to share.
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When Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would rescind business capacity limits and a statewide masking mandate on Texas Independence Day, he framed it as a step forward. "With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny," he said during a press conference at a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock.
But some local restaurants and bars, which have been caught in the regulatory crosshairs since Texas' first positive COVID test 364 days ago, have chosen to ignore Abbott's overture. Instead, they will continue to maintain pandemic precautions once the executive order takes effect next week, citing a desire to keep their staff and patrons safe.
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(AUSTIN, TEXAS) Austonia has hired Claire Partain as a reporter covering Austin FC, the MLS expansion team that will be Austin's first major league sports franchise.
Partain is a former sports editor for the The University Star, Texas State University's daily newspaper. She edited, covered sports, produced podcasts, and hosted a pre-game TXST football tailgate live series. Partain has been freelancing with the company since January, prior to accepting a staff position.
A native of Fairfield, Texas, Partain grew up playing youth soccer. In her high school years, she played alongside her mother in what was then called the Freestone County Hispanic Women's Soccer League.
Claire's coverage philosophy: "I like to bring out the humanity of sports, and I want to make this the most accessible sports coverage possible."
She notes that soccer is the predominant sport for young people. "It's a global sport, and we're more connected to the world than older generations."
That approach fits the team's already visible presence in Austin, says Austonia CEO Mark Dewey. "Austin FC has established itself as a leading Austin brand, one that stands for a more unified Austin community, a bigger global presence for Austin and fun. Austonia shares those values."
Partain's soccer coverage begins immediately, with her free, hosted text service—Austonia FC. For updates, special access and inside info, all moderated by Claire, sign up below.
Austonia is the city's independent, free, locally-owned and all-digital source for Austin news, information and entertainment.
Connect with Austonia through its daily email newsletter and text updates, @austonianews Instagram feed, @austonianews and @austinist Twitter feeds, @austonianews Facebook page and its website austonia.com.
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Austin Public Health will release another batch of first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Thursday on Wednesday evening. A department spokesperson estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 slots will be available.
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