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Austinites work to keep their people, pets and pipes safe amid ongoing power outages
(Austin Travis County EMS / Twitter)

Sam Pitasky is a light sleeper. So when his noise machine cut out around 2 a.m. on Monday morning, he woke up.

Like more than 40% of Austin Energy customers, Pitasky, 29, and his wife, Maddy Sembler, 31, were facing a power outage.

The couple got up and went into the backyard of their Hyde Park home, where their three chickens—two goldens named Abbi and Ilana and black-and-white Eleanor Roosevelt—live in a homemade enclosure. They moved the chickens into the bathtub, which is now filled with hay.

"If the power hadn't gone out, they might not have made it," Pitasky told Austonia.


By 6 a.m., it seemed clear to them the outage was not a rolling one, and he texted a couple they are friends with to see if they had power. After hearing back a couple hours later, he and Sembler tried to decide if it was safe to drive to nearby North Loop. With four-wheel drive and few cars on the road, they decided to go for it—and arrived at their friends' condo around 10 a.m.

"Things like this have been happening a lot this year," Sembler said.

(Maddy Sembler)

A common experience

The couple isn't alone in trying to make sure their pets, property and selves are safe. By Monday evening, more than 212,387 Austin Energy customers were without power, slightly more than earlier in the day, and many took to social media to share updates and, in some cases, concerns.




When city officials hosted a midday press conference on Facebook live, thousands of viewers commented. Some were worried about Austin's homeless residents and whether they had access to indoor shelter; others had family members with medical needs who were facing outages.

"It's 35° in our house... my son needs his oxygen back on and our E tanks are out ... we need our electricity turned on!" one woman wrote. "My mother is elderly and on oxygen - she hasn't had power since 2:00 AM!!! What is she supposed to do? I can't get to her," another commented.

By 6 p.m. Austin-Travis County EMS received more than 1,000 calls for service, and the Austin Police Department had issued a request to residents not to call 911 to report power outages so that people in need of immediate attention could get through.

In addition to concerns about people and pets, more than two hundred Austinites also reported broken pipes on Monday, according to city data.

Another day ahead

Local and state officials expect the power outages to continue through Tuesday and advise residents to stay home, conserve energy and avoid driving, especially after dark, until power can be restored and roadways are cleared.

Back at the Pitasky-Sembler residence, their chickens remain in the bathroom. The couple plans to return home on Tuesday to make sure they're safe and—hopefully—find that their power is back.

"We said it was weird that we were leaving the house and the chickens were staying," Pitasky said.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway