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Drinking water promised by the city amid a major water outage has arrived in Austin with the city putting a plan in place to get water to vulnerable residents first.
The city of Austin announced Thursday it had ordered one million gallons of water in 16-ounce bottles from six states in the Southeastern U.S. Additionally, the Texas Department of Emergency Management delivered two 18-wheelers full of water from a FEMA site in Fort Worth Friday morning.
The city will distribute the water to the community in a three-step plan to take place throughout this weekend.
- Phase One, which prioritizes those in most critical need, is already underway. Distribution efforts began Friday afternoon as shipments came in and included delivery to warming centers and shelters, COVID-19 isolation facilities and protection lodges, medical facilities and first-responder locations. The first phase has continued into Friday evening as the city moves into Phase Two.
- Phase Two targets populations including seniors, home-bound residents and other more vulnerable groups. Distribution will continue into Saturday, with the city teaming up with organizations such as Capital Metro and the Austin Disaster Relief Network to speed up delivery efforts.
- Phase Three will include distribution to the general public, which will begin on Sunday. Finalized locations will be released Saturday, but the city said their goal is to have a Point of Distribution site in each City Council district as well as important areas throughout Travis County. Each household will be able to take one case of water at the sites, which will operate from sun up to sun down.
Water remains scarce despite the latest efforts, so city officials recommend that those that can buy water do so instead. Local businesses have also opened up their doors to those seeking water with the condition that Austinites take their own container. View a list of places providing water here.
The announcement comes after Austin announced a boil water notice on Wednesday night, an emergency made even more substantial as many households were left without running water. In addition, around 18,000 Austinites were unable to boil water even if they had it as power outage issues persisted through Friday afternoon. According to Austin Energy, around 97% of customers had power restored, and lingering issues were likely due to fallen limbs or downed power lines.
Austin Water has continued to make progress and says that water utility could be restored as early as this weekend. A boil-water notice could persist much longer due to necessary testing that needs to be conducted to ensure safe drinking water.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."