AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Energy said it has been busy fixing power lines damaged in the ice storm. There are around 400 workers, nearly 100 of them from out of town, out on the streets repairing damages so energy is restored for everyone. As of Saturday, there are still roughly 100,000 Austin Energy customers are still without power.

KXAN morning anchor Sally Hernandez spoke with Austin Energy Public Information Officer Matt Mitchell to find out how workers stay safe while mending the infrastructure. 

How does Austin Energy ensure workers are safe?

“These men and women are just incredible individuals,” Mitchell said. “(They) go away from their families during the most dire of circumstances – (they) may not even have power at their own homes.” 

“It’s dangerous work even in the most optimal of weather circumstances. Now imagine doing it in freezing cold rain – frozen rain – and dealing with thousands and thousands of kilowatts of current,”  he said. 

“This is a huge crew of people to keep fed, watered, nourished, and sustained. We have to give them time off. They have to be able to talk with their families. They have to make sure that things are okay at home. These are all things that we’re asking them to do under very difficult circumstances.” 

“So the people supporting them do this 24 hours a day as well – finding hotel rooms, finding catering services that can get food to a lot of different locations,” Mitchell said. “It’s a 24-hour-a-day job.”

What can we do to help them?

“Anyone who’s experiencing an outage –  it may seem strange –  but unplug as much as you can so that we can keep that power on when it’s restored,” Mitchell said. 

“Austin Energy has equipment and personnel throughout our 400 square mile service area. We may need to get into your backyard to make a repair; we may need to get over those lines that are near your house. We’ll be knocking on doors. We’ll be asking for access to those places,” Mitchell said.

“All of our crews will be properly identifying themselves, (and) they’ll have ID clearly marked as Austin Energy employees.”

 “You can trust the fact that they are there to do good work,” Mitchell said. ”We ask that you let them do that work so that we can all be restored as soon as possible.”