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...and afternoon text update

Cases of water to be distributed by the city. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

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:

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."

As water remains scarce, many Austin breweries and restaurants have teamed up to provide free drinkable water to residents, while dozens more are providing free meals.

Updates on water distribution and supply can be found on the City of Austin and Austin Water Twitter accounts.


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