Austin power outages: Emergency services still operating; warming centers open for those in need

An Austin Fire Department truck drives down Manor Road on Feb. 15. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
An Austin Fire Department truck drives down Manor Road on Feb. 15. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

An Austin Fire Department truck drives down Manor Road on Feb. 15. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

As of 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15, more than 210,000 Austin Energy customers are without power—more than 40% of all customers in the city. Those outages began early in the morning after a winter storm and have continued for hours as the energy company maxed out all available circuits it could disconnect under direction from the the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Emergency services are still operating, and residents in need can still call 911. However, the city of Austin’s 311 help line and its website are experiencing issues.

“We are not having any impacts to 911 operations. We’re still asking the public to please keep 911 open for immediate emergencies only,” said Juan Ortiz, director of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

According to a tweet from Austin-Travis County, emergency workers were operating at maximum capacity Feb. 15, taking more than 800 service calls by 3 p.m. as opposed to 743 calls in the previous 24-hour period.

The warming centers at the Palmer Events Center for individuals and the Downtown Salvation Army Center for families remain open for those in need of a warm place to get out of the conditions. Ortiz said 282 people sheltered overnight Feb. 14 at the Palmer Events Center and other shelters. On Feb. 15, he said the city has expanded its capacity to 450 spaces available.


Residents who check in at the warming centers and need a place to go overnight will be provided transportation. Capital Metro, which shut down all its services Feb. 15, is assisting in the effort. Ortiz said if anyone needs a place to go, they should do so during daylight hours Feb. 15 rather than waiting for nightfall.

"If you need to be on the roads, the daylight will help you get there in a safe manner,” he said. “If you wait, it’s going to just get more complicated in the dark and put you at risk.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15 to reflect the current number of Austin Energy customers experiencing an outage.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


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