While sitting in the dark under layers of blankets on Monday evening, trying to stay warm amid a power outage, Emma Israel noticed lights turn on outside her bedroom window.
Israel, a masters student at the University of Texas at Austin, lives two blocks away from the university's intramural fields in the North Loop neighborhood. Every night, their lights shine through her window.
Israel had noticed they went on Sunday evening despite requests from Austin Energy to conserve energy. She and her housemates had responded, unplugging things around the house and turning the heat down to 68 degrees. "We took that warning seriously because I didn't want to end up here, where we are 30 hours later, without power," she told Austonia.
When the field lights flashed again on Monday night, Israel was "even more mad." She tweeted about it, hundreds of people liked it, and within the hour the lights had turned off. "Now we're begging the downtown skyscrapers to turn off their lights," she wrote in an update.
Hey @UTAustin@UTRecSports I'm staring out my window from my cold, dark home at the bright lights on the IM fields. The call to reduce usage applied fo all of us. Turn. Them. Off. Cc: @austinenergy@statesman
— Emma Israel (@em_israel1) February 16, 2021
Israel wasn't the only one who had noticed the downtown lights. Skyline photos began popping up on social media as night fell, showing office towers ablaze while entire swatches of the city remained in the dark.
Terri Gruca, an anchor and reporter of KVUE, posted a stark photo taken at the Fairmont Austin. "A tale of two cities," she tweeted, pointing out the difference between downtown and nearby East Austin. Austin Energy's outage map shows blackouts all over the city.
A tale of two cities - on the right is downtown Austin - to the left East Austin. Look who has power. @KVUEpic.twitter.com/nxhgU2efak
— Terri Gruca (@TerriG_KVUE) February 16, 2021
Council Member Greg Casar, who represents Northeast Austin's District 4, weighed in.
If @austinenergy cannot cut power from empty office buildings for technical reasons, then those building managers should be formally asked by @austintexasgov. For the good of everyone across the state.
I've submitted this request. https://t.co/2W73qCrHXV
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) February 16, 2021
By Tuesday morning, Austin Energy had issued a response. "The downtown network is excluded for now from load shedding (power outages) during controlled outages mandated by ERCOT," the utility said in a statement. "This is a complicated, inter-connected network which includes critical buildings like the Dell Seton Medical Center, warming centers, the COVID-19 Alternate Care Site, Capitol Complex and Austin City Hall, as well as other critical infrastructure and government buildings."
Austin Energy made "an urgent plea to customers" to conserve power and announced it is working with the Building Owners & Management Association and the Downtown Austin Alliance to ensure their members are heeding it.
Like many Austinites without power, Israel is frustrated by the lack of action on the part of major energy consumers. "Those big power users are the ones that can help get us out of this," she said. "It's not really a question of whether my neighbors turn their porch lights off."
- Austin power outages could last through Tuesday - austonia ›
- Photos: Winter storm brings power outages, snow to Austin - austonia ›
- Arctic Austin: how to protect your home in freezing weather - austonia ›
- Austin faces third day without power, pipes bursting - austonia ›
- ERCOT: Restored power is contingent upon milder weather - austonia ›
- Austin Energy restores some power—but not for long - austonia ›
- Natural gas outage affects 300 East Austin homes - austonia ›
- Austin Energy reduces power outages by nearly two-thirds - austonia ›
- Texas tough: how 32 Austinites are weathering the storm - austonia ›
- How to protect your home and self in freezing weather - austonia ›
- With more moving to Austin every day, are roads, rail and flights keeping up with the growth? - austonia ›
So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!