The city of Austin has not set up official water distribution sites for the general public as of Saturday afternoon, but city leaders said they are continuing to keep their warming shelters open for emergency water distribution through the weekend.
In a press conference Saturday, Austin leaders including Travis County Judge Andy Brown, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and County Commissioner Jeff Travillion said that more water is coming in as the city begins distributing drinkable water to certain vulnerable groups.
As of 3 p.m. Saturday, the city has distributed 8,066 cases of water to warming centers, COVID-19 isolation centers and other Phase I priorities. Through its community partners, 2,812 cases have also been distributed as part of Phase II.
In addition to water, Travillion said that the city provided 800 free meals to residents on Friday and another 20 pallets of food on Saturday.
According to Adler, official water distribution sites will be disclosed on Sunday. Although it is unclear how many sites will be available and how much water will be in supply, the city hopes to set up at churches in each city council district as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the city is teaming up with Capital Metro, Meals on Wheels and others to distribute to those without access to any form of water, especially seniors and at-risk groups.
Customers with Capital Metro's Metro Access service, which is designated for those with disabilities, are currently eligible to get drinking water. Cap Metro said it has already contacted the service's nearly 3,000 customers.
Travillion said that Austin is working to give resources especially to those that have traditionally been disadvantaged.
"We are going to continue to try to work in communities that have historically been in the back of the line," Travillion said. "We are not going to rest, we're not going to stop working, until we get our issues addressed, but it is going to take time."
Warming shelters that are still open are also being used as emergency centers for residents to get a few bottles for free if their situation is dire.
Here's a list of warming centers that are still open and under capacity:
24/7 city shelters:
- Del Valle High School, 5201 Ross Rd, Del Valle
- Mendez Middle School, 5106 Village Sq Drive
- Reilly Elementary School, 405 Denson Drive
24/7 Church Shelters through the Austin Disaster Relief Network:
- Austin Stone-North Campus, 1150 McNeil Road, Round Rock
- Friendship Creekside, 14455 FM 1826
- University Ave Church of Christ- 1903 University Ave.
Warming Centers (9 a.m.- 9 p.m.):
- Georgetown Rec Center, 1003 N Austin Ave. Georgetown
- Round Rock Baca Center, 301 W Bagdad Ave. #2 Round Rock
- Murchison Middle School-West, 3700 N. Hills Drive
- Joslin Elementary School, 4500 Menchaca Road
The city is distributing water from its pool of 1 million gallons of drinkable water. Eighteen pallets of water were flown in from FEMA's Fort Worth distribution center on Friday night, while 36 pallets arrived by truck from the same source that night. Fifteen truckloads are expected by Saturday night, and 45 total trucks are to be sourced from significant donors. An undisclosed private donor is set to deliver 16 trucks in the coming week, while the city of El Paso is looking to deliver five trucks of water on Monday.
Adler said that because demand is currently lower than what Austin Water can supply, more residents are beginning to get their water utilities back. For those who now have running water, Adler recommends that they boil what they have instead of using bottled water to conserve resources.
Austin Water has said that it hopes to have all its customers with at least limited running water by the end of the weekend, but some issues could last much longer.
The city has predicted that the current boil-water notice could linger into next week as the city scrambles to sample water and ensure that it is safe.
With long term issues such as leaky or burst pipes, Brown said that he believes it will be at least a month before much of the damage from the winter storm is fixed. Brown also cautioned that phony plumbers or other repair services could be looking to capitalize off of the crisis.
"My guess is that there is an extreme need for plumbers, and that it sounds like we're at least a month out from everybody having their things fixed," Brown said. "I would also caution that in times of disaster like this, it is very common for people to claim that they are a plumber, or that they can rehabilitate your house, but they're really just trying to take your money."
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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