It could be another week before some Austin Energy customers get power back
Some Austin Energy customers may not have their power restored for another week, the utility said Sunday night.
"We are now focusing on the most complicated & time-consuming restoration efforts. Incoming wind & rain will pose additional challenges," it said in a tweet. "Based on current information, we expect to restore power to nearly all remaining customers by Sunday, Feb. 12."
Around 30,000 customers were out of power Sunday night, according to Austin Energy's outage map. The utility said residents without power who need a place to stay can call 311 or 512-974-2000 for overnight shelter.
Strong winds expected Tuesday could lead to more trees and branches falling on power lines and more damage, City Manager Spencer Cronk said at a news conference earlier in the day Sunday.
“It’s important to know that trees are still vulnerable after the winter storm, and they may have broken limbs that are high up in the branches that you cannot see,” he said.
Downed trees and tree limbs are the main cause of the outages, he said. He advised residents not to park their cars under trees.
"I’m sorry for how long this is taking,” Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent said at the news conference.
She said the city was dealing with "hurricane-level devastation" and that most of the outages are complex and take time to repair.
When asked about customer rebates because of the power outages, Sargent said the utility wouldn't provide them because the damage was due to a natural disaster. Cronk said, however, that the city would explore options.
"But that will come over the course of time," he said, "as we do the assessment of both how much this costs and what we can provide to our citizens."
Cronk said 36 traffic signals were still dark. Drivers are advised to treat these intersections as four-way stops.
Austin-area school districts are preparing to reopen campuses Monday after the ice storm prompted closures last week. Austin ISD said Sunday afternoon that all schools but Hill Elementary had power.
The district said Hill students and staff would relocate to Padrón Elementary, 2011 West Rundberg Lane, for a modified school day Monday. It said students could take their regular buses, but that any child whose family chose not to send them to Padrón would be excused.
The Eanes Independent School District, as of Saturday, also had a couple campuses still without power: Westlake High School and Eanes Elementary. Superintendent Jeff Arnett said on Twitter he expected progress to be made on Sunday and remained optimistic all schools would reopen Monday.
Austin Resource Recovery is collecting trash, recycling and compost carts curbside. It said its regular curbside collection schedule will resume Monday, but Austinites can call 311 for curbside pickup of debris.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Saturday for Travis, Hays and Williamson counties. State funding and resources will now be allocated to these Central Texas counties. Austin and Travis County issued disaster declarations Friday, while Hays and Williamson county issued them earlier in the week.