Frustrated South Austin Residents Powerless, Want Answers

By Ken Miller | February 6, 2023

Some residents in Austin, Texas who are still without power Saturday days after a winter storm struck say they are frustrated that no answers are being offered as to when their electricity will return.

“There’s just no communication from (Austin Energy) about when we’re going to get help,” said Christy Kale, who lives in south Austin.

“We got a text (Friday) saying `thank you for your patience,”’ after receiving a text on Thursday that said a repair crew had been assigned to the area, Kale said. “But no one has come to the neighborhood that I can tell.”

“There are elderly people” in the neighborhood, said Kale, 66. “Children, people who need medical equipment, it’s just wrong” that no one with the energy company will say when power is expected to be restored.

Officials with Austin Energy did not immediately return phone calls for comment on Saturday.

The energy company’s website said crews were working around the clock “through complicated repairs to restore power to customers.”

The company said power may return intermittently as work continued to repair the system.

Both Kale and fellow south Austin resident Greta Olivas said they have been unable since Friday to speak by phone with a person when trying to contact the power provider for the city of nearly 1 million people, Austin Energy.

Both also said they just want to know when to expect power to return.

“If I had an answer, if it was `oh, there’s an area with bigger problems, it’s going to take the weekend (before power is restored)’ … we would know what to do … we could go to a hotel,” Olivas said.

“I would drive to San Antonio,” for a hotel, if she knew when to expect the outage to end, Olivas said. “It gets cold at night,” even though she has a fireplace and a generator to run a small space heater and to heat water.

The Saturday morning low in Austin was about 30 degrees and local disaster declarations have been issued, the first step in possibly qualifying for state and federal disaster aid as a result of the storm.

Statewide, the number of outages had fallen to below 125,000 on Saturday, down from a peak of 430,000 customers without power on Thursday.

The storm, which swept into the region Monday, has been blamed for at least 12 traffic fatalities deaths in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

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