AUSTIN (KXAN) — Twenty-five thousand Austin Energy customers were still without power as of 10 a.m. Monday. So far, the utility has restored power to 325,074 customers since the beginning of last week’s ice storm.
The energy provider said based on current information, it expects to restore power to nearly all remaining customers by Sunday, Feb. 12.
“This estimation is based on the following factors: rate of restoration since the start of the storm, number of workers involved in the restoration process, a more complete damage assessment, and weather,” Austin Energy wrote in a news release.
At a press conference, AE General Manager Jackie Sargent described this winter storm as “hurricane-level devastation.”
Austin Energy said it is prioritizing restoration for critical loads and customers who have been without power the longest.
The energy provider said expected weather conditions this week may damage power lines and already weakened trees, cause additional outages, increase the risk for lineworkers and potentially slow restoration progress.
High wind worries
Sargent said they are worried upcoming weather conditions could complicate things even further.
“As early as Tuesday forecast calls for rain, thunderstorms and wind gusts,” Sargent said. “The trees are compromised, and high winds could pose new issues.”
Still, they said they won’t stop until all customers have power.
“We are now focusing on the most complicated restoration efforts. The smaller outages with unique damage,” she said.
Impact on customers
People like Sarah Rainwater and her husband Gordon said power couldn’t come soon enough after being in the dark for five days.
“It’s just overwhelming and kind of just a letdown and disappointing and frustrating,” Sarah said.
She said this storm has cost her and her husband a lot of money.
“We had to throw all of our food out in the fridge because that’s five days of no power to keep it stored properly,” Sarah said.
Until power is restored, the Rainwaters said it’s hard to make plans and they feel their life is on hold.
“We don’t know how much food we need to buy, should we leave, should we get a hotel,” Sarah said.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said there are 36 traffic signals without power. He said crews placed temporary stop signs at many of the intersections.
“We want to remind drivers to please approach all intersections with caution. Treat the dark traffic signals as an all-stop and as always watch out for pedestrians,” Cronk said.
The city is also testing and resetting the school zone signs ahead of Monday.
“Please stay vigilant and treat all school zones as active weather lights are flashing or not,” Cronk said.