Students face power outages while UT facilities still have power, are available to students

Sheryl Lawrence and Lauren Abel

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include power outages at UT-owned Gateway Apartments.

Students living off campus continue to face power outages and internet issues amid the winter storm in Texas, but UT-Austin’s main campus still has power.

Mayor Steve Adler issued a state of disaster for both Travis County and the city of Austin as a result of severe weather conditions on Feb. 14. 

Austin Energy has started performing rotating outages at the request of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that are supposed to last 10 to 40 minutes to mitigate consumer demand. However, the council is unable to perform outages in areas with emergency services, so many have experienced longer outages, and the rotating outages in other areas are expected to continue throughout the night into Tuesday.  

Ayu Larasati, information studies graduate student, said power in her West Campus apartment has been out since the middle of the night. Larasati said she doesn't know if she will be able to continue to contact her family in Houston because her phone and laptop are going to run out of power soon. 

"I haven't witnessed the 'rolling blackouts' that ERCOT was supposed to do," Larasati said. "They said that blackouts should happen for no longer than 45 minutes. Power has been out since I woke up freezing this morning at 7:45."

According to a 2018 article from the Alcalde, facilities on campus will not lose power because UT’s grid can be disconnected from the main grid and still function. University spokesperson J.B. Bird said there have not been any power outages on campus thus far, but Gateway Apartments, a UT-owned complex, is experiencing outages and some residents are being relocated to another building. 

Sara Kennedy, director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students, said students facing issues can find resources at the University emergency website

“(The website) is the place to go to find out exactly what is available (and) what the status is for different departments and services” Kennedy said.

For students experiencing power outages or other housing troubles, both Kinsolving Dining and J2 are open for food and shelter through University Housing and Dining during dining hours. 

“University dining has facilities open right now, so if you can safely get to campus, there is a warm place for you to get food,” Kennedy said.

According to the website, all telehealth appointments through University Health Services and the Counseling and Mental Health Center are canceled, but the nurse advice line and the CMHC crisis line will continue to be available 24/7. 

Student Emergency Services in the Office of the Dean of Students will continue to monitor emails and voicemail messages at 512-471-5017 to offer assistance to students. 

“We are monitoring all of our voice messages, so if students reach out for support, they are going to get a response,” Kennedy said. “We are trying to make sure we are monitoring those to make sure we are able to support our students as best as we can.”