Many Texas colleges and universities cancel class for rest of the week
Many colleges and universities across Texas have cancelled classes for the rest of the week due to dangerous road conditions and inadequate internet access brought on by the widespread power outages.
The University of Texas at Austin is closed until Monday morning. The University of Texas at Arlington is closed through at least the end of the day Friday. Texas State University, the University of Houston and the University of North Texas are also closed through Saturday. Texas A&M University said they are monitoring conditions and will decide later today if classes are canceled Friday.
Meanwhile, many universities are still providing meals and have opened warming centers in certain buildings for students who might not have electricity or heat. Texas State University is providing warming buses for students to use. As many cities issue boil water notices for residents, universities have also started to provide bottled water to students as available.
This morning, Texas A&M officials urged students to avoid doing laundry or taking showers, as power outages at water wells and water leaks have resulted in extremely low water levels across campus. As of this morning, the university had 30% of normal campus water levels. They also warned students to report any leaks as frozen pipes begin to thaw with warming temperatures.
ERCOT says progress being made on restoring power
Progress is being made to restore power to the majority of millions of Texans whose electricity and heat was forced off by energy providers during the subfreezing temperatures this week, Texas’ energy grid operators said Thursday morning.
“We’re to the point in the load restoration where we are allowing transmission owners to bring back any load they can related to this load shed event,” said Dan Woodfin with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in a statement.
Those without power still, he said, are more likely to be affected by ice storm damage on power distribution systems, which need to be manually restarted after they were forced to shut down, and large power facilities that voluntarily went offline and haven’t again started dispersing energy.
Austin Energy reported Thursday morning that 13% of its energy customers were without power, compared to more than 40% Monday. Less than 2% of the Houston area was reportedly without power, which had seen about 60% of its homes and businesses without power during the storm.
Texas Workforce Commission suspends work search requirement through next week
Texas’ unemployment agency is suspending its work search requirement through next week due to the winter weather, according to an announcement on its website.
Texans are typically required to prove that they are searching for work to receive unemployment benefits, but the requirement has been suspended for this week and next. The number of required work search activities varies by county, and the requirements include filling out job applications, participating in network events and or taking skills assessments.
The Texas Workforce Commission wrote that the storm impacted its operations, including contract call centers.
Hospitals in Austin are running out of water, forcing some to transfer patients
Austin-area hospitals are facing widespread water issues after severe weather this week. St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said it lost water pressure from the city Wednesday, creating a series of problems.
Seton hospitals in the area are also facing water problems. A spokesperson for Ascension Seton said in a statement that “extreme weather conditions have caused intermittent water issues at several Ascension Seton” facilities.