After nearly 36 hours of widespread power outages impacting around 40% of customers, Austin Energy provided a midday update Tuesday that means another very cold night for some Austinites, who should not expect to have power through Tuesday night and "possibly longer," the local utility tweeted.
AE's outage map showed that 205,958 customers were impacted as of 12:45 p.m., with other local energy companies also reporting widespread outages.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages 90% of the state's power supply, provided intermittent updates Tuesday, saying that it had directed some local utilities to restore power to households but also that frigid temperatures continued to cause problems.
"While ERCOT says conditions are improving, we want customers to know this is a dynamic situation + conditions re changing throughout the day," Austin Energy wrote.
EMERGENCY OUTAGE UPDATE at 12:30 p.m.:
While @ERCOT_ISO says conditions are improving, we want customers to know this a dynamic situation + conditions are changing throughout the day.
⚡Customers should be prepared to not have power through Tuesday night and possibly longer. 1/4
— Austin Energy (@austinenergy) February 16, 2021
Hundreds of thousands of Austinites face a second night without power—and perhaps also without water or internet access—amid subfreezing temperatures. Residents report that they're stuck in homes hovering around 40 degrees and moving between their cars to warm up.
Four warming centers are now open.
- Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road
- Mendez Middle School, 5106 Village Square Dr.
- Northeast Early College High School, 7104 Berkman Dr.
- Del Valle High School, 5201 Ross Road
Due to high demand and limited capacity, these centers are intended for the city's most vulnerable populations, especially those who have medical devices that require electricity to operate.
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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.
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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.
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