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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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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