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 ›
As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
Christa McWhirter<p>Crystal Maher, a member of the Restaurant Organizing Project, stands in front of the Texas Capitol to express to other protesters in attendance how not being eligible for a vaccine has impacted her ability to safely keep her job. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Kiara Collins, Eric Santos and Taylor Escamilla are all essential workers who have been questioning their safety in their workplace. As many of the other protesters, the three wore masks with the word "Expendable" on it. According to Collins, they were only given to essential workers in attendance to represent how they have been treated since the onset of COVID-19.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>As Maher continues to introduce speakers, two essential workers who came out to support the protest, record as counter-protesters heckled the event's speakers.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Some of the counter-protesters in attendance were live streamers from InfoWars, an extremist organization, who heckled speakers until the rally dispersed. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>A representative of the Del Valle Community Coalition spoke about the impact the lack of vaccine access has had on the Del Valle area. As she attempted to give her speech, anti-masking protesters yelled at her causing many people to attempt to block them out.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Protesters blocked the way of anti-mask counter protesters as they heckled the event's speakers and held "My Body My Choice" signs. "It's kind of insane how they're using 'my body, my choice.' It doesn't only affect you. So it's not just your body," Taylor Escamilla said.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Jeanette Gregor, cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, also had to fend off counter-protesters as she gave an impassioned speech about the danger essential workers place themselves in by going to work and have yet to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Around 2 p.m., State Troopers began to arrive at the Capitol amid heightening tensions from protesters and counter-protesters. As police presence began to increase, the event came to end about 15 minutes later. Despite the constant back and forth between sides and the arrival of law enforcement, the protest came to end peacefully.</p>
The world has changed drastically over the past year, and South by Southwest, one of Austin's most beloved institutions, has, too.
After being abruptly canceled by the city last year, one week before it was set to kick-off due to the increasing understanding of the potential impact of COVID-19, it returns this year in a virtual format March 16-20.
- SXSW goes virtual for 2021, possible in-person event - austonia ›
- Oprah confirmed to kick off SXSW EDU - austonia ›
- SXSW Music Festival announces showcasing artists - austonia ›
Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Everything we know about Austin's COVID vaccine rollout - austonia ›
- Austin healthcare offering COVID-19 vaccine waitlists - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health will release 4k COVID vaccine slots - austonia ›
- Testing sites close, vaccine appointments stay on track despite cold ... ›
- Austin Public Health will release extra COVID vaccine slots - austonia ›