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An ice storm hit the Austin area the week of Jan. 30. Hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses lost power as ice-covered trees toppled power lines across the city.

Austin Energy says storms could delay repairs but most should still get power back by Sunday

A fallen tree limb damaged part of a wooden fence
Renee Dominguez
A fallen tree limb damages a wooden fence at a Central Austin home.

Austin Energy said it expects Tuesday's weather to cause delays restoring service to all its customers, but most should have power by Sunday.

"We're expecting some some bad weather tomorrow and Wednesday, specifically where we could have storms, cloudy skies, lightning and high winds," Matt Mitchell, a spokesperson for the utility, told KUT. "All of that inhibits restoration efforts. We'll still have crews working 24/7. That won't change. But obviously, when you have windy conditions like that, it's harder to be up in the air in bucket trucks or climbing poles. It makes it more treacherous to run wires."

Austin Energy said it has been able to restore power to more than 17,000 customers since Sunday with the help of crews from Houston and San Antonio. About 20,000 customers were still without power Monday afternoon.

Mitchell said Austin Energy couldn't guarantee restoration to all customers by Sunday because some damage was severe.

"They're the ones that may need individual electricians to go and make those repairs to the house before we can restore power safely to them," he said. "They need a licensed electrician to do that, and we're expediting permitting and that sort of thing along those lines."

One challenge utility workers have faced in the field is verbal abuse from irate customers, according to Craig Brooks, Austin Energy's director of operations. He said crews had to call police on one occasion.

"We understand that you're upset," Brooks said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "These guys came to help, and ... they don't deserve that."

He said crews are working 24 hours a day and they may surprise people who are trying to protect their property. Austin Energy crews have not left a site due to the verbal abuse, but they are willing to if incidents get bad enough, he said.

The utility is asking residents to please allow crew members access to equipment on their property.

Austin Resource Recovery said its regular curbside collection schedule resumed Monday, and people can call 311 to request debris pickup. Tree limbs longer than 15 feet should be cut down.

Emergency shelters with food and water are operating for people who don't have power. Pets are allowed. People can access the shelters by calling 311.

The Central Texas Food Bank is holding a drive-thru food distribution from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Delco Activity Center on Pecan Brook Drive. The event has enough supplies for 500 families and is first-come, first-served.

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