Austin continues to make progress on recovery from last week's winter storm, city leaders said, while preparations for forecasted storms this week are underway.
City Manager Spencer Cronk, Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent and other city department heads provided an update on city disaster response in the afternoon Feb. 7, hours after an in-depth briefing on emergency management to City Council.
Sargent said more than 10,000 customers have had their power restored since 6 p.m. yesterday, bringing the citywide total to 350,000 restorations since last week's storm. Less than 5,000 customers remained without power after 5 p.m., and AE still expects outage work to be completed before the end of Feb. 12 as line crews move to address the most challenging incidents.
"Each outage that we're finding now has different nuances," Sargent said. "We're entering into this slow, tedious process as crews work their way from the largest [outages] and now to the smallest and complete the most complex."
She also noted that rain and wind in the forecast this week could affect those efforts, although she said crews can operate in inclement conditions and would only be pulled away from line work in severe weather.
Richard Mendoza, interim director of the Austin Transportation Department, said nearly all of the city's hundreds of intersection traffic signals are back up and running after many fell dark in recent days. Mendoza said about 40% of signals were affected by the storm through the past week and ATD crews have since restored all but five. Those locations are now flashing lights running on battery backup and ATD will continue working to fully restore power.
Mendoza said residents still encountering dark traffic signals should treat them as all-way stops and report outages to 311.
Posted Feb. 7 at 10:37 a.m.
As at least 9,000 customers remain without power on Feb. 7 following Winter Storm Mara, Austin's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is warning bad weather could cause additional issues.
“Our trees are vulnerable after the winter storm and may have broken limbs high up in their branches that cannot be seen easily,” said Juan Ortiz, director of the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in a press release. “With strong wind in the forecast, additional tree limbs may fall, potentially creating further damage and causing new outages. That’s why we’re asking people to be extra attentive today and to bear with us while we address new challenges as they arise.”
Previously, Austin Energy officials said further bad weather could slow down repairs.
The Department of Watershed Protection also has some concerns with flooding, according to the press release. Residents are asked not to block drains so that water does not build up in streets.
The National Weather Service is forecasting potential rain for Feb. 7 and 8 in the Austin area.