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"No water, no electricity, very cold, terrible" —An Austonia reader.
Click Keep Reading to read about what your neighbors are going through.
No name provided
"We have been out of power since the beginning. Our food most all ruined. Now no water. I cannot say it has been fun, but we have been trying to support our neighbors and help where we can. We are still out of power today, Thursday. Our pipes are frozen. We tried to find a hotel with power and water that would take pets with no luck. Historic episode or not, Austin Energy has grossly mismanaged this situation. I hope some lessons are learned from this and changes made."
No name provided
"We are much luckier than so many others, but at 74 years old, my husband and I had no power from 3 a.m. on Monday until 9 p.m. last night and our house was about 45 degrees for the entire time. We could not leave our house. We did not freeze, but it has been brutal. It did not help that the people who have been in charge of the state for the last 20 years made statements like Rick Perry's saying that Texans are willing to live for 3 days without power to keep the feds out of our lives. This said from his home probably with a whole house generator and his own water well. He does not speak for us. And, every time we heard from the governor, he was trying to find someone else to blame. Please, governor, just take some responsibility, and do something to make things better."
"Just found out I have stage 3 breast cancer and all my appointments have been cancelled. I'm beyond overwhelmed and depressed. But it seems like everyone I know is feeling sick and scared at the moment. :("
"It is a real struggle. Had power out early in the storm for 48 hours. I had my neighbors across the street with power while I didn't. No water now going on 2 days but have power. Apartments 50 yards away has been without power now on 4 days."
"I'm one of the lucky ones. My parents in Jollyville have been without power since Sunday night, but they have water, a fireplace, and good camping gear, so they're okay. I'm central East and I still have power and water. I also have a 4wd and have been giving rides and doing what I can."
"It's been absolutely awful. I have a husband and two kid's ages 8 and 10. We have been without power since Sunday morning! We ran out of food. Luckily we have a gas fireplace but as a precaution we had to monitor it, turning it off periodically. Some of our food expired. We suffered in ways I feel was absolutely unnecessary. We camped in our living room huddled up to try to stay warm. Our water went out. Thursday afternoon and things went downhill from there. 4days like this in the worst ice storm to hit Texas?!?!"
No name provided
"No power since Monday evening 6 p.m., don't have gas connection, no water. Our apartment is very cold."
"I live just off of South Congress and we lost power on Sunday but luckily have one working pipe for water. We had a lot of firewood that we burned to stay warm (even sleeping outside by the fire) but that has finally run out after 72+ hours without electricity. We have a gas stove so have resorted to constantly boiling water to get the house up to closer to 45-50 degrees. Food is running low and surviving off 7-11 chips... My office building downtown remains lit up (absolutely terrible they are lit up) so I can walk there for hot showers if need be. This is embarrassing on the city/state!!! Luckily I'm young and healthy so can survive but for the young/old people out there in this just makes me worry."
"Have had power outages of 10, 27 and 33 continuous hours along with brief on and offs. Coping by wearing silk long johns, multiple layers, gas stove for heating soup, a heavy comforter and two loving cats. Charging phone in car. Have a shopping list for next time."
"Coping with limited heat and no water for several days—I've dressed with four layers all over, lots of contact daily with several groups of friends, offering to help others when and where I can, exercising via dvds, attempting to drive for water but now melting snow. Complaining to friends about the total lack of competence that comes when Republicans are in charge."
"It has been difficult. We live in Travis Country West and most of our subdivision has not had power since it went down a few days ago. We are kinda running out of options here.... we have been hoping Austin Energy would cycle us back on, even if for a little bit, but that has not happened. We are in good spirits, giving it the old Texas can do attitude, but again, are a bit discouraged with Austin Energy. This status update is as of Thursday morning. Thanks for asking about us. We would like to get word out to Austin Energy. All we can reach is the automated line...."
"We are on our late 70's and our power went out Sunday morning at 5 a.m. We have been without power since. It's been an experience but thanks to our Dear Lord we have so survive it."
"No power for over 77 hours! I'm disabled. I have Lupus, Huntington's Disease, RSD, Arthritis, Neuropathy, high blood pressure- just to name a few. Since it was never said, this would last days? There was no reason for us to anticipate the extended outage. By the time we realized that my health was in great jeopardy? We had NO OPTIONS!! All open hotels were booked solid! I called the Red Cross Tuesday night, crying and scared. I explained my medical conditions AND my concern that my 22 medications weren't supposed to be stored in 42-51 degrees! To replace them? Will now cost ME upwards of 10 THOUSAND dollars!! Insurance companies do not care about WHY they were improperly stored!! I explained that I COULD NOT risk exposure to COVID (very susceptible, due to health issues), but could no longer tolerate the cold with no power, no heat, since Monday, at 2:07am. I honestly thought I'd die if I didn't warm up! She told me to Shelter-in-Place!! I was mortified!!! Therefore, we were forced to stay home! Luckily, though I'm in horrific pain... I survived. Our condo has stayed in the 40s, but it'll still take me months, years, a lifetime, to "recover". My boyfriend missed 3 days of work because he couldn't power his computers, had no internet, etc. Since he's in a contract-position, he lost 3 days of pay. He is our sole source of income!! I understand this was an unprecedented storm, and therefore, I don't "blame" Austin, for lack of readiness. WHO WOULDA THOUGHT THIS COULD EVER HAPPEN!?!? HOWEVER... It's the RIDICULOUS LACK OF COMMUNICATION , that absolutely infuriated me!!!!! Being in a "technical malfunction" area? THEY HAD TO KNOW THIS, from early on. And yet?? We couldn't even get through to a live person, until yesterday! I'm outraged, and would like Austin Energy to compensate us!! Him/us, for lost wages, and me, for cold related health issues, flare ups, pain, medications, and ongoing concerns, due to lack of resources! Our lives were in jeopardy, and NO ONE CARED!! I don't know if I'll EVER get back to pre-storm health (which was already questionable!)... I have a TELEMED appointment with my doc, later today... Many have frozen pipes... We ALL have $1000 wasted in our fridge and freezers... And so on... It's going to be expensive, for us all... HOWEVER- The negligence through all of this? Has caused me extensive long term damage, that NO AMOUNT OF MONEY, can repair!! It's costed me... THE LITTLE "QUALITY OF LIFE" I DID HAVE, and, quite probably, YEARS OF MY LIFE! We are OWED for the ignorance, neglect, and lack of life saving resources!!!!!!!!"
No name provided
"We woke up to no power on Monday morning, like most of the city! After it seemed clear that is was not going to be a "rolling blackout" we opted for a hotel room downtown. Feel very lucky that we made that decision early because many friends were not able to find an empty room later in the day. My husband drives back to the house each day to make sure it's still standing! Power came back on sometime Wednesday but our pipes are frozen so we had to shut the water off. We lost an oak tree-- very sad about that. Pool may not survive... four days in sub freezing temps without power is not good! We feel very fortunate overall. We are well insured and have been safe, warm and fed. So concerned for the people of Austin who don't have equal resources. Epic fail by the state of Texas to protect its citizens."
"Melting snow and ice. No bathing, or cleaning allowed.cooking is minimal, due to cant wash dishes. Little water would be better than none at all."
Carolyn M. Appleton
"Both our Lakeway and Bee Cave mayors have been sharing helpful updates on Facebook, proving yet again how important the platform has become when disaster strikes. Our water at 3501 RR 620 S did not go out until Wednesday at noon. It did return to the taps later that evening. Thursday morning, it is still on (fingers crossed). So far, no electrical outages, but last night, I did notice a light at home flickering, suggesting weak power. AT&T Internet has kept going, with a few low moments (sadly, during a mid-morning video meeting) on Wednesday, but all seems fine as of Thursday morning."
No name provided
"I live on a small family ranch. We've had very sporadic times with power, and I consider us lucky for the short bursts we got. The inside of my home got so cold that it froze the water inside of my animals' water bowls. We weren't able to keep our pipes warm, so they froze and broke and we've been without running water for days-no showers, no washing our hands, and we're trying to melt snow in buckets to be able to flush our toilets, but without power and thus no heat, that gets pretty difficult. The only time we have connection to anyone is the times when we do have power, because we live in an area that does not have cellular service and without internet, we can't contact anyone. We can't water our animals outside because the pipes froze, and we can't even get more water for them so we've just been hoping there was enough in their trough. We are lucky to have a furnace we can put firewood in, but the heat still isn't great. Everyone is okay, thankfully, no injuries or major sickness to take care of, but it's been rough. I consider us to be lucky to be alright, but I can't imagine how bad it got for others."
Soccer, the sport of many names, is reflected on and off the pitch in the multicultural city of Austin, from fan clubs like Los Verdes to the Austin FC roster.
Spanning across four continents and 12 countries, Austin FC's roster comes from all corners of the globe.
Austin FC's first signee, Rodney Redes, hails from Paraguay. So does the club's first Designated Player, Cecilio Dominguez. Five other players' hometowns are in South America, while five others are from Europe or Africa. While most on the roster signed to Austin FC from other MLS teams, Austin FC players have played as far north as Finland, as far east as Israel and as far south as Argentina.
English and Spanish are the most spoken languages on the team, although Zan Kolmanic speaks Slovenian and the club is well-traveled, too: Jon Gallagher has lived in six countries, while Kekuta Manneh, the club's only true Austinite, left behind all he knew in Gambia to move to the city in high school.
The multiculturalism on the pitch goes hand-in-hand with the city of Austin itself. Over 30% of the city's population is of Hispanic or Latino descent, and Austin is a majority-minority city (meaning non-Hispanic Whites make up less than 50% of the population).
It's brought even the most unlikely groups together; while supporters of Liga MX and the English Premier League used to be on opposite sides of the bar, now they come together in green.
Jorge Chavez, a member of Austin FC fan club Austin Anthem, said that Austin FC helps unite a city full of travelers and move-ins.
"A lot people here are from all these different places, and they might not have that much in common with each other, but now they do," Chavez said.
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Less than a week after a fatal mass shooting on Sixth Street and amid rising concerns about violent gun crime, state Republican leaders and gun lobbyists gathered for a celebratory press conference, where Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law seven bills expanding gun rights, including one allowing permitless carry.
"This is a prolific day for the Second Amendment in the state of Texas," House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said at Alamo Hall in San Antonio on Thursday.
The bills take effect Sept. 1 and include:
- Senate Bill 19: Prohibits state contracts with companies that plan to divest from firearm ammunition companies
- SB 20: Bars hotels from prohibiting guests from bringing guns into their rooms
- SB 550: Permits a person to carry a gun in any type of holster
- House Bill 957: Exempts suppressors made in Texas from federal regulations
- HB 1500: Designates firearms and ammunition sellers and manufacturers as essential businesses
- HB 1927: Allows residents 21 years of age and older to carry a handgun without a permit
- HB 2622: Designates Texas "Second Amendment Sanctuary State"
This expansion of gun rights comes as violent crime rates rise in major U.S. cities, including Austin, where murders were up 50% year-over-year in April.
This week, Austin police arrested two juveniles in connection with the mass shooting on Sixth Street early Saturday morning, left one dead and 14 others injured. Two months ago, a former Travis County sheriff's deputy shot and killed three people in North Austin, prompting an hours-long manhunt.
"We support the right of every law-abiding American to be able to have a weapon to defend themselves," Abbott said. "That is different from teenagers unlawfully getting access to guns to commit crime. Those are people who deserve to be behind bars for the rest of their lives."
Local public safety advocates have attributed this rise to police budget cuts, which Austin City Council enacted last August, but cities that increased their police spending are also seeing increases.
In light of rising violent crime rates, the Austin Police Department launched a gun crime prevention program in April. Although not all violent crime involves guns, gun violence is increasing and may involve stolen guns or illegally manufactured "ghost" guns. "I'm just very concerned about the number of illegally possessed firearms and how we can curb that," Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said during an April 15 press conference.
Rising violent crime rates continue to spur gun sales in the Austin area—and around the country. "In this increasingly dangerous world, people want to be able to protect themselves," embattled NRA President Wayne LaPierre said at the press conference Thursday. "Thank god Texas is leading the way in making that possible.
A long shot
Conservative activists have lobbied for permitless carry for years, without success. But state lawmakers reached a compromise last month after the Senate added a series of amendments to address concerns from law enforcement groups, which worried permitless carry would endanger officers and make it easier for criminals to access guns.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick celebrated the bill's passage, which he described as an expansion of Texans' freedoms. "The media needs to understand that you are so far out of touch with where Texans and Americans are on this issue," he said.
Nearly 60% of Texas voters opposed permitless carry, according to an April University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Melanie Greene, lead volunteer for the Moms Demand Action Austin group, recently told Austonia that state lawmakers are likely motivated to pursue such legislation because of a small, vocal minority of gun rights activists and the threat of drawing even more conservative opponents in primary elections.
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Austin's tech labor market, which was already tight heading into the pandemic, has grown even more so as California companies flock to the capital city. It's made for a situation where employers are listening more to worker demands to fill job openings.
For tech workers—like their counterparts in the restaurant, construction and myriad other industries facing labor shortages—that means setting their own terms, such as remote work options and higher wages.
"We are living in times when the employees are the king or the queen," said Angelos Angelou, founder and CEO of local consulting firm AngelouEconomics.
A talent center
Lured by the state's business-friendly climate and Austin's growing tech scene, California-based companies such as Tesla, Oracle and TikTok built factories, relocated headquarters and opened offices. Austin posted the highest tech migration rate of any city in the country between May 2020 and April 2021, according to a recent LinkedIn analysis.
With so many new resident businesses, job growth kept pace. The Austin metro ranked fourth nationally for tech job postings growth in March, according to Silicon Valley Bank's latest State of the Markets report.
Oracle relocated its headquarters to the Riverside location in Austin. (Shutterstock)
To fill these roles, local tech companies have to look beyond the city limits. Employers poach from their competitors, recruit recent graduates from area colleges and universities or look to the national labor market for talent, Angelou said.
Summer Salazar, director of employer engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, has seen a huge influx in tech sector job postings on the university's job board in recent months. "We feel that demand," she said.
An employee's market
Jaime Cabrera, 28, recently graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and is looking for a policy job at a social media company. He didn't go into his job search with plans to stay in Austin but has seen various intriguing openings, citing Bumble, Lyft and TikTok. "I didn't realize how many companies are here," he said.
The tech labor market also affects employees who are not looking for a new job but instead seeking better benefits or internal policy changes from their current employer.
Lawrence Humphrey, 27, lives in North Austin and works for IBM. Shortly after the murder of George Floyd, he co-founded Tech Can Do Better, which advocates for a more equitable industry. Since then, there has been little quantitative progress in terms of more diverse hiring and other metrics. But there has been a qualitative shift. "Issues around racial equity are just far more of a priority from the perspective of the employees, so therefore it's far more of a priority for the employers," he said.
OG vs. newcomers
Although the pandemic has accelerated the growth of Austin's tech industry, the industry was already established. In the latter half of the 20th century, the city attracted big tech originators like IBM because of its enticingly low labor cost and spawned homegrown giants like Dell—trends that continue today.
The arrival of Silicon Valley tech transplants in other growing tech cities, such as Miami, has led to tension with the so-called old guard. In Austin, such competition has forced companies to compete for workers, leading to more mobility.
"When I was in the job market, my god if you changed jobs often—and often meant once every three years—you were considered a traitor," said Angelou, who headed the Austin Chamber's economic development department from 1984 through 1995, helping to recruit companies such as IBM, Apple and Samsung to town. "Now people change jobs every nine months, it appears, and that is considered a plus."
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