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Local plumbers have been overwhelmed with customers as the full extent of pipe damage is realized from frozen pipes thawing after days of sub-freezing temperatures.
With so many pipe issues resulting from the freezing temperatures of the past week, plumbing companies are being bombarded with calls for service. Radiant Plumbing and Air Conditioning is experiencing up to a 300% increase in calls, and ABC Home and Commercial Services is receiving about 1,000 calls a day. Such a drastic increase in call volume means that many customers are not able to get through to plumbers or retain appointment slots.
(2) On Tuesday, a major pipe burst under our house (pictured). A plumber from NextDoor called me and coached my partner and I on how to shut off the city valve from the street- residential valve was unusable. pic.twitter.com/9i3ApgGfaC
— emily (@emily86008799) February 22, 2021
Bailey Klentzman, an Austin resident who experienced a burst pipe in her home on Monday afternoon, said her family has had trouble getting an appointment to fix their plumbing because local plumbers are so overbooked.
Despite not being able to successfully book a plumber, they have been able to get a contractor out to assess the damage to the floors and ceilings affected by the water damage. Although the Klentzmans appropriately prepared by leaving faucets dripping and cabinets open, they will still need to replace the floor and ceiling around the pipes due to severe water damage.
While struggling to find a plumber to come out, Klentzman, her husband and two dogs, have been without water for five days as of Saturday evening.
"I'm a hiker and I've done bad hikes before where I didn't plan so I had to ration water in that way, but that's just a few hours," Klentzman said. "Days without water was a little scary. I felt like I was really rationing."
After two days of rationing the little water they had, Klentzman said their neighbors came to their rescue, leaving containers of drinkable water and dog food at their home.
Chris Webb, another Austin resident, also experienced a burst pipe in his home.
Webb was out of town during the freeze, but knew something had gone awry when he received a text from his roommate.
"I got a text message from my roommate while I was trying to get home that just said, 'Code Red, man. Code red.' And I knew that that meant a pipe had finally gone."
Webb, like Klentzman, properly prepared his home to protect their pipes, unfortunately, his home has experienced extensive damage to, not only the plumbing, but the entire bathroom the leak happened in.
Having lost water due to the plumbing disaster since Wednesday after 40 hours without power, Webb and his housemates have finally had a plumber come out and restore their water.
"The whole (bathroom) wall is gutted and ripped out, but we got water running again ... and we're down to one bathroom for the house."
While overwhelmed plumbers scramble to fit Austin customers into their books, Gov. Greg Abbott has temporarily waived certain regulations for registered and qualified Plumber's Apprentices in Texas.
These waivers will allow Plumber's Apprentices, who have met all other qualifications, to temporarily repair plumbing in the state without direct supervision by a licensed plumber.
"These waivers will help meet the plumbing needs of Texans who have experienced burst pipes and other related damage from the severe winter weather," Abbott said. "By allowing certain registered and qualified Plumber's Apprentices to perform these repairs, we will be able to expedite the recovery process throughout our communities."
Despite days without power, burst pipes and extensive water damage, many Austinites share the same sentiment of gratitude for simply making it through a historic storm.
"Even with everything we've been through," Klentzman said, "we're still the lucky ones."
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17 years and three medals later, Osterman's last ride with USA softball is over. What's next for Cat?
Nearly two decades after her debut with the University of Texas and 17 years after her first Olympic gold, softball icon Cat Osterman stepped off the Olympic pitcher's mound for the last time with a silver medal to take back home.
Osterman, a three-time Olympian who has been called the "Michael Jordan of softball," will officially retire from the international realm at 38 after a decorated career that included Olympic golds, years of retirement and plenty of adversity—from a worldwide pandemic to dashed gold-medal dreams.
Osterman and her crew left Tokyo on a bittersweet note on Tuesday with a silver medal in hand.
Osterman with Team USA in 2008. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
Osterman in the final in 2021. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
After a year of sparse in-person training and over a decadelong hiatus, Team USA and Osterman flew to the finals. In five games, the team beat Italy (2-0), Canada (1-0), Mexico (2-0), Australia (2-1), and Japan (2-1).
Deja vu struck in the final match. On one side, Osterman and fellow 2008 Olympic teammate Monica Abbott took the mound; on the other was the 39-year-old Yukiko Ueno, a familiar foe who helped the team beat Team USA last go-round.
"Just like 13 years ago," Ueno said in a press conference, "we were facing each other in the final."
Ueno, who had lost hopes at gold to Osterman in '04, outpitched her longtime opponent with six scoreless innings as Team USA was held to just three hits. The same team that squandered their gold-medal hopes 13 years before had done it once again.
Your Tokyo 2020 Olympic Silver Medalists 🇺🇸#TokyoOlympics | @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/MOMNOedHUd
— USA Softball Women's National Team 🇺🇸 (@USASoftballWNT) July 27, 2021
"There's a little bit of disappointment in not bringing home the gold since that's the eye on the prize when you go over there and you know you have a shot at it," Osterman told Austonia. "But more than anything, I'm very proud of the way our team handled everything that was part of this journey and not just the six games."
It's that very loss at the 2008 Olympics that partially motivated Osterman to get back on the mound. She officially put down the glove in 2015 after six seasons with the USSSA Pride, took time with family and began coaching at Texas State University.
Osterman helped ace Randi Rupp to greatness while a coach at Texas State University. (Active Voice Health/Twitter)
She thought her Olympic endeavors were well over—until talks of reinstating softball into the Games reentered the conversation.
"It wasn't until 2016 or 2017, that it ever crossed my mind to possibly put the USA uniform on again," Osterman said. "After the World Championships in 2010, I walked away, and I thought that my career on the international stage was done. So this was a pleasant kind of new opportunity."
Three years after facing any competition, Osterman was on the field once more with world-class athletes. Some, like Osterman and Abbott, had been playing together long enough to form a formidable "Fire and Ice" duo on the mound. Others had just graduated college.
Osterman said playing with a younger generation of athletes was one of the most rewarding aspects of this year's Games.
"It can be very different when you have 24- and 38-year-olds on the same field," Osterman said. "The adversity put us in some challenging positions and we came through with flying colors. And this group will forever be special just because what we had to go through is so different."
While on the mound, Osterman's job was to give the team a calm start. Off of the field, she felt her role had much of the same effect: she knew that new Olympic feeling, and she served as a deep breath to her first-time teammates.
"There's no words to explain how nervous and excited you get knowing that the whole world can be watching," Osterman. "I think using those emotions and figuring out how to get all our butterflies lined up and going in the right direction, so that way we were all moving together, was kind of my role outside of pitching."
We've heard her retire once before, but this time Osterman said she's gone for good—even from coaching. After her final time with Team USA on Sept. 27, she plans on returning to Austin, where she'll look to work for a nonprofit.
A gold and two silvers will have to do for one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. softball history.
"To be able to say you're a three-time Olympic medalist is a pretty special deal, right?" Osterman. "I played for a long time. But those are the pinnacle, in my mind, and kind of what elicits the dream to keep playing."
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Hospitals are facing a "significant" increase in admissions of pregnant women due to COVID-19 complications, Austin-Travis County health officials say, revealing what could be a long-term side effect of the virus.
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes met with three maternal medicine specialists on Monday morning to warn of yet another COVID-19 Delta variant concern: severe cases of the disease affecting unvaccinated mothers-to-be.
The doctors said unvaccinated pregnant women face an increased risk of preterm births, long-term effects, preeclampsia, ICU stays, stillbirths, being put on life support and even death if they are unvaccinated.
"We are really concerned that we are not getting that population of folks to hear this message of the safety of vaccines, so today we're assembled, one and all to say, wear a mask and please get vaccinated," Walkes said. "Vaccinations are the way to prevent severe disease and hospitalizations and death."
Medical Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at St. David's Women's Center of Texas Dr. Kimberly DeStefano said 95% of pregnant women admitted with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, stressing that all pregnant and lactating women should get the vaccine not only to protect themselves but to protect their babies from infection, which can be passed through breastmilk or birth.
"We know that the earlier in pregnancy you are vaccinated, the more antibodies are present at the time of birth for the infant," DeStefano said. "This is something that's very important, both during the pregnancy and postpartum."
Catching COVID-19 while pregnant can cause adverse effects on the baby, particularly because it increases the risk of preterm births. Baylor Scott & White Maternal Obstetrics Chief of Maternal Medicine Dr. Jessica Ehrig, said that preterm births are one of the "biggest impacts" on childhood development.
"We know that (preterm births) can have long-term effects depending on how early a baby's born," Ehrig said. "It increases the risk for long term respiratory issues, for blindness sometimes (and) for neurologic development delays."
Since mid-July, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on a steep rise that sent the city back to recommending Stage 4 guidelines. As the seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations surpassed 50 admissions, Stage 5 guidelines could be on the horizon. The city reported 54 new admissions and 546 total new cases on Friday.
Delta is more contagious than chickenpox, Walkes said, and even vaccinated individuals can catch and spread the virus without symptoms. The group of doctors asked everyone, especially pregnant women, to mask while in public as local hospitals pass the Stage 5 threshold.
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