The snow and ice may have melted, but Winter Storm Uri has left a flurry of busted pipes and other damages that could take several weeks to repair.
Austin Water's water leaks map is now flooded with long-term repairs across the city, and plumbers are booked weeks or months in advance as Austinites clamor to get their homes fixed.
As the city was besieged with a long-term freeze, water in pipes quickly turned to ice, leading to increased pressure, expansion, and eventually, tens of thousands of leaks.
Twitter user Colin Sullender compiled all broken water pipe reports from the Austin Fire Department's Active Fire Incidents page and found that over 2,000 calls have been made since Feb. 15. According to AFD's Twitter, the department was only able to respond to a fraction of those reports.
The @AustinFireDept has received over 2,000 "Broken Water Pipe" reports since February 15th according to their Active Fire Incidents page with a peak of almost 90 reports in one hour on Tuesday. Incident reports were distributed across the #Austin city limits. #atx #txwx #txlege pic.twitter.com/lzro4i0ajD
— Colin Sullender (@shiruken) February 21, 2021
While some have had busted pipes since Winter Storm Uri first reached Central Texas, others are only just finding out they have damages as water is slowly trickling back into their homes. According to an Austin Water spokesperson, the department has not been able to find many leaks because of low water pressure.
With the city unable to respond to the influx of calls, many Austinites took to social media to vent their concerns, give advice and even provide plumbing services.
On Reddit's Austin page, users created a plumbing "megathread" that gives tips on at-home pipe repairs, Austin Water updates and more advice on handling the water crisis. The thread saw nearly 700 comments with similar tips, questions and links for extra help.
One user offered to help with free plumbing services to anyone in need. Others discussed melting snow in bathtubs or creating DIY contraptions to get clean drinking water. Many posts talked about the community created on the platform during the crisis, calling the page a "lifesaver" full of important tips and "camaraderie."
On Twitter, users have found that pipes are continuing to burst as water thaws.
Not good to see this pipe burst at the end of my street @AustinWater #allandale #austin pic.twitter.com/z7A8xFAtuj
— Elizabeth Catlos (@ElizabethCatlos) February 21, 2021
Others are offering free temporary fixes as well.
Hey fam - if you're in Austin and can't turn on your water because of a pipe break, let me know. I can help with a temp fix while you wait for a plumber. I'm hearing of waitlists stretching into April.
— Bill Blackstone (@BillBlackstone) February 20, 2021
Thousands of burst pipes have also resulted in water loss on a massive scale that has contributed to the city's current water outage. At its peak on Tuesday and Wednesday, Austin Water utility director Greg Meszaros said that 325 million gallons of water were lost.
With a sudden surge in leaky pipes and increasing demand in running water, Austin Water is still working to refill its reservoirs and bring back running water to much of the city. As of Sunday, the reservoirs are at 72 million out of the 100 million gallons needed to restore normal utilities.
Two more city zones saw a return in low-pressure running water on Sunday morning, but five of the nine are still completely dry. Austin Water said it hopes to bring back water utilities to all zones by tomorrow.
Since the city's water filtration plants lost power during the storm, Austin and many others remain under a boil-water notice for at least the next few days.Nearly half of Texas' population was under a boil-water notice at one point this week.
In addition to the city, most Austin plumbers are booked for weeks, if not months, in advance due to such high demand. Travis County Judge Andy Brown said in a press conference on Saturday that repairs could take a month to address, and phony plumbers are a secondary issue that could occur as services remain scarce.
"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."
The spike in burst pipes, the citywide loss of water and power outages during the winter storm has left many to question what changes need to be made to the city and state's infrastructure as both face many uncertain weeks of recovery.
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Expect some whiplash this week, Austinites: with an expected high of 103 degrees, Monday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year, but a midweek cold front is on the way to bring that first glimpse of fall.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could see its first 100-degree temperature this year on Monday as temperatures citywide are expected to exceed this year's record of 102 degrees.
The cold front arrives Tuesday afternoon to evening.#atx #atxwx #cbsaustinwx https://t.co/rQni6ug3y4 pic.twitter.com/PoFeHPYtnM
— Chikage Windler WX (@ChikageWeather) September 20, 2021
After a typical summery Tuesday with highs in the mid-90s, Wednesday will welcome the first signs of fall as a cold front drops lows into the 50s.
Expect more wind and a chance of rain come Tuesday with a 40% chance of scattered storms. The cold front, which should last through Friday, will bring drier, crisper air that could cause fire hazards on Wednesday.
Highs will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s and lower 60s for the front's final two mornings.
After near record heat today, a cold front arrives tomorrow! Hang in there South-Central Texas, we have almost made it. pic.twitter.com/yd9UbNo7hY
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) September 20, 2021
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.