"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."
For the first time since July 30, the seven-day moving average for COVID hospitalizations dropped below 50 on Tuesday, reaching the Stage 4 threshold.
At 49, the number is low enough to lower guidelines, but the city has not yet changed its Stage 5 status.
Austin has been in Stage 5, the highest level of Austin Public Health's COVID risk-based guidelines, for over a month as case rates and hospitalizations surpassed last summer's surge, the Delta variant targeted the unvaccinated and a younger demographic and ICUs surpassed capacity in the Austin metro. But with the seven-day moving average at 49 on Tuesday, it may be a sign that the third surge is beginning to end.
On Tuesday, 515 new cases were reported, down from a third-surge peak of 1,261 on Thursday, Sept. 7. Two days after the peak, Austin reported 1,000 COVID deaths and broke a daily death toll record with 23 deaths in a single day.
But while cases and hospitalizations are dipping, the city still has many factors to consider before dropping safety guidelines. Austin Public Health told KXAN Wednesday that key indicators including "positivity rate, the doubling time of new cases, and current ICU and ventilator patients" will need to be evaluated first.
The metro continues to have no ICU beds available as Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes says patients from other counties come into the area to seek care. Travis County saw 35 COVID deaths for the week of Sept. 17, slightly down from a peak of 36 for two weeks prior.
The lower hospitalization rate comes as Austin reaches a 70% vaccinated population, a number once thought to be needed to reach herd immunity. With the highly contagious Delta variant, however, many think that the new herd immunity rate is closer to 80%. But Austin officials have reported being "cautiously optimistic" as the moving average for hospital admissions slowly declined from their peak of 83.6 on Aug. 11.
"We're starting to see our case numbers decrease over time, and that is an exceptional thing to say at this point, but we're still cautiously optimistic," Walkes said.
Under Stage 4 guidelines with the Delta variant, APH continues to recommend limiting dining to takeout/curbside for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals and slightly lifts shopping and travel guidelines to "only if essential." Stage 4 continues to recommend masks for vaccinated individuals in social and public settings but now includes high-risk vaccinated individuals that were recommended to stay home unless essential in Stage 5.
(Austin Public Health)
(Austin Public Health)
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Austin's new police chief is former assistant chief Joseph Chacon, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Wednesday morning.
Narrowing a pool of 46 candidates down to seven, then three, Chacon beat out Avery L. Moore, assistant chief of the Dallas Police Department, and Emada E. Tingirides, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, for the position. Austin City Council will still need to confirm the appointment come Sept. 30.
"I'm confident Interim chief Joseph Chacon is the right person to lead our City's police department to achieve results, build trust and transparency, and accomplish equitable public safety outcomes for all Austin residents and visitors," Cronk said.
Chacon, who was the interim chief for the past six months, will assume the position after Brian Manley retired in March and the department underwent scrutiny with a rise of murders and crime in the city. The Austin Police Department is also undergoing reform as a result of last year's Black Lives Matter protests that ultimately resulted in city council cutting and reallocating millions of the police budget. The department has additionally faced a staffing shortage that predates the budget cuts and was exacerbated by the halting of police cadet classes—classes have since resumed with a new curriculum at the beginning of summer.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Cronk said the final decision was driven by input from the community. He said Chacon is committed to reshaping public safety and gaining the trust of the community—putting in the work to do so.
Chacon acknowledged APD is at a crossroads, saying its relationship with the community needs a reset and it the department will be committed to transparency. He cited a change he made as interim chief that releases video of officer-involved incidents in 10 days as opposed to 60, which he says is in line with such expectations of transparency.
When discussing the spike in homicides, he said the homicide unit has worked to solve most cases and hold those responsible accountable.
"We remain one of the safest big cities in the United States and this is in large part due to to the daily efforts of the men and women of this department who show up every day with courage, respect, professionalism, integrity and a heart for service," Chacon said. "They keep this city safe every day."
He also addressed the attrition rates at the department, citing that while officers are leaving at high numbers, people are also applying at record rates.
Like Manley, Chacon is an internal hire; Cronk said he did not anticipate making an internal hire initially.
Chacon has been in law enforcement for 28 years and was appointed assistant chief in Austin in 2016.
"I am extremely excited and humbled by this amazing opportunity," Chacon said. "Austin PD is at a critical juncture, and I am honored that the city manager is showing the trust in me to lead this amazing organization. I will be engaging our department employees and our community to make sure we are moving forward in the best way possible."
This story was updated after the 1:30 p.m. press conference.
What, you think the only thing there is to do at Austin City Limits is to watch your favorite artists? Must be your first time. ACL is more than just a dreamy three-day soundscape in the park—between sets, the festival has so much to offer that it's nearly impossible to get bored.
You're bound to have some downtime while attending ACL 2021, so when you do, make an effort to explore the booths, zones, markets and branded seatbelt forests—you'll be glad you did.
Ice for your Hydroflask
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
Empty plastic or aluminum water bottles are welcomed inside the festival and ACL does a great job of keeping attendees hydrated, so there's no reason to buy water or waste plastic while attending. You have to bring the bottles in empty but there are several filling stations for water bottles located around the park. None of them offer ice, which can be essential during those 100-degree days. Head to any of the bars located in the park and ask for a cup of ice—bartenders are happy to part with it and you'll be cool as a cucumber!
Access to private lounges
Need a break from the never-ending sun? A snack that doesn't cost $30? There are private, shady lounges all over the park—some for exclusive ticket holders, some waiting to be discovered by even the one-day crowd. Take for instance the T-Mobile Lounge, located adjacent to the stage of the same name, offered patrons a wristband to access the lounge in exchange for a social media post back in 2019. If you're an American Express cardholder, the benefits are numerous: a lounge open only to cardholders and complimentary merch awaits those who don the card.
Free prizes, snacks and drinks
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
With dozens of vendors on the grounds, swag is not hard to find. You might have to play a game, answer some trivia or post on social media to qualify but the free merch often comes in handy. Forgot a fan? A vendor has one. Need a bandana? Visit the Tito's stand. Lose your water bottle, sunscreen or earplugs? A vendor has you covered, so be generous with the Instagram tags.
The ACL Art Market
(Roger Ho for ACL)
Support local by visiting the artisans at the festival's art market, located in the center of the park. Artists from all walks of life and levels of success sell their artwork yearly at the festival, so you'll need space to store your new keepsake if you're planning to collect. Blue Lux, Austin Art Garage, Greg Davis and Futurgarb are a few previous attendees. You'll know you've made it when you stumble across the massive, colorful "ART" sign.
Clean up trash for free merch
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
Ensuring that Austin's beloved park stays clean throughout the festival, ACL partners with Austin Parks Foundation for its "Rock & Recycle" program that offers a little something for everyone. Stop by the Austin Parks Foundation booth when you have some free time to pick up a bag, fill it up with littered recyclable items and return the full bag for a free T-shirt—that's it. Plus, you can be entered to win other contests every time you help keep the park clean.
See some interactive art installations
Each partner at the festival has something up their sleeves, often worth exploring. As ACL partners change, you're likely to see some returns, like the Honda Seatbelt Forest or the Bumble BFF Find Your Bestie Booth. In 2019, Honda gave attendees a colorful backdrop to pose in front of and a break from the chaos, whereas Bumble promised to introduce you to a new friend and gave out merch to those who gave it a go!
Lend your ear (or your wallet) to a good cause
(Roger Ho for ACL Fest)
ACL is more than just a festival—it's a time to raise awareness for local organizations. Stop by the ACL Cares area, where nonprofits and organizations gather to spread the word, and you're likely to find organizations like Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, SIMS Foundation, Austin Music Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, The Nature Conservancy and the Love Hope Strength Foundation, where you can register to be a bone marrow donor at the festival.
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