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."
- Food, bottled water en route to Austin amid weather crisis - austonia ›
- Water conservation is now Austin's 'immediate priority' - austonia ›
- 10 places offering free water in Austin - austonia ›
After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.