Here’s what you need to know about power, water and shelter at and around UT amid severe weather

Editor’s Note: This story was updated regularly until Sunday, February 22. Information within this story may no longer be up to date.

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

At a press conference Thursday, UT spokespeople did not provide an answer as to what buildings on campus are experiencing water outages. As of Saturday morning, the Texan Union and Gregory Gym have functioning water. 

Almost 5,000 Austin Energy customers are without power as of 1:00 p.m. Saturday, according to the outage map. At peak outages, nearly 220,000 customers were without power earlier in the week. 

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 Sunday, and Austin Energy began performing rotating outages Monday morning at the request of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The outages were supposed to last 10 to 40 minutes to mitigate consumer demand, but many experienced outages for multiple days.

Austin Water also issued a citywide boil notice for all residents on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., according to a press release. People should boil water “vigorously” for about 2 minutes before use, according to the release. 

The Texan has compiled and is constantly updating a list of resources and information pertaining to: student emergency housing, financial support and tuition, water at UT, health at UT, warming centers, campus food options, UTPD’s response to on campus violations, what to expect from classes and professors, power at UT and what’s closed at UT. 

For a list of what restaurants are opened and closed around UT campus, see the Texan’s article here. For a list of where water is available, see the Texan’s article here.

STUDENT EMERGENCY HOUSING

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said students needing emergency housing can stay in the warming centers. Bird said they are “the safest, most effective way to” house students. 

Sara Kennedy, director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students, said Student Emergency Services is working with other departments at the University to see what emergency housing is available.

On Friday, Kennedy said UT has housed 124 students in emergency housing this week.

Kennedy said each department will support what they can, which is why they are working with the Texas Union, Gregory Gym and San Jacinto Residence Hall. 

The University is looking into providing hotel rooms for students in need of emergency housing, but has not been able to secure any rooms yet because of hotels being booked, Kennedy said at a press conference Friday. 

She said Student Emergency Services is still taking requests for emergency housing, but they are not providing single room housing. Kennedy said they are informing students of the 24 hour warming centers at UT and in the Austin area. 

Economics junior Sofía Velasco said she reached out to Student Emergency Services to request housing Tuesday evening. She said she received an email, a copy of which was obtained by the Texan, Wednesday that said, “individual rooms for emergency housing are not currently available.”

Kennedy 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.

If a student is in need of emergency housing due to an extreme situation, they can contact Student Emergency Services. SES in the Office of the Dean of Students will continue to monitor emails at [email protected] and voicemail messages at 512-471-5017. 

FINANCIALS: SUPPORT AND TUITION

Students can apply for emergency funds — that don’t have to be repaid — through Student Emergency Services, Kennedy said. The amount each student receives varies by person. The University has given out $17,000 of those funds this week, she said. 

Students can also apply for an emergency cash loan of up to $500 that has to be repaid within 30 days and has an interest rate of 0%. 

Students making tuition installment payments will not be charged for late fees on the second installment that was due Friday, said Joey Williams, director of communications for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. He said the late fees will now begin Feb. 24.

WATER AT UT

Austin Water issued a citywide boil notice for all residents on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., according to a press release. The boil notice includes UT, West Campus and Riverside. 

Residents are now required to boil tap water before using it because of possible contamination, according to a press release from Austin Water. People should boil water “vigorously” for about 2 minutes before use, according to the release. 

For more information on what to do during the water boil notice and how to prevent freezing and bursting pipes, see the Texan’s article here

According to the emergency website, all campus warming centers have bottled water available for students who show their UT EID as of noon Friday.

The University will provide bottled water to students who visit the dining halls, Bird said. He said Friday morning the University is expecting 10,000 additional water bottles sometime mid-day on Friday given safe driving conditions.

The Daily Texan has compiled a list of businesses with water available for students around campus. 

According to the emergency website, The Texas Union has running water as of 11:30 a.m. Friday, but the boil water notice is still in effect for any water consumed. The Union toilets are also functioning, said James Buckley, director of facilities and operations for University Unions.

Bird said some of the residence halls have water flow issues, but he did not specify which residence halls on Thursday afternoon. Staff are directing residents to use restrooms in other parts of the building or other nearby buildings.

“With this rapidly evolving situation, there are buildings experiencing low to no water flow,” Bird said. “Because conditions are changing rapidly at other buildings, the best thing is for people on campus to check with staff on-site for the best current options.”

The Daily Texan has independently confirmed some on campus residence halls that are experiencing water outages and shortages here

Austin Water is asking customers who do have running water to limit their water usage by turning off dripping faucets as temperatures rise, not run washing machines or dishwashers and only use water for essential needs. 

In an update Austin Water posted at 8 a.m. on Friday, they said the boil-water notice will continue to remain in effect until they can do sufficient sampling to ensure the water is safe for consumption. The ability to find and repair broken pipes will increase as the system improves. To report a broken pipe or a leak, go here.

According to a map posted by Austin Water on Friday morning, the University and most surrounding areas have low water pressure. Some places in North Campus have water outages.

Austin Water tweeted that some customers are experiencing water outages due to frozen pipes, which will not thaw until the weather warms up. Customers can call Austin Water’s 24/7 emergency hotline at 512-972-1000 to shut off their water if their pipes burst or their waterline breaks.  

HEALTH: UHS, CMHC AND COVID-19

According to a message sent out by University Health Services on Friday night, UHS will reopen on Monday for both in-person and telehealth visits, including COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students. UHS is urging students who are symptomatic to remain isolated until they can get tested on Monday.

The nurse advice line will continue to be available 24/7 at 512-475-6877.

Counseling and Mental Health Center telecounseling appointments will resume on Monday. To schedule an appointment, students can call during business hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to schedule an appointment. The CMHC crisis line is available 24/7 at 512-471-2255.

“While the University is closed, we have canceled all of our appointments,” said Katy Redd, the associate director for prevention, development and media relations at CMHC. “The 24/7 crisis line is available all the time, around the clock, no matter what, if a student is in crisis.” 

Redd said the CMHC will reach out to students to reschedule appointments when the office reopens.

COVID-19 proactive community testing will resume on Monday at 8:30 a.m. UHS will reach out to reschedule the appointments that were canceled the week of Feb. 14.

The UHS case management nursing team, which calls students who have COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness to check on their conditions, is still functioning, said Elisa Spradlin, assistant chief medical officer for UHS. She said they will be contacting students throughout the week.

COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be administered on Monday in Gregory Gym. According to the UT Health Austin website, vaccinations scheduled for Feb. 15 through Feb. 19 will be moved to the week of Feb. 22. People who had vaccinations scheduled for Feb. 15 through Feb. 19 must follow the table on the UT Health Austin website to receive their vaccination. 

The vaccinations scheduled for the week of Feb. 22 will continue as planned, but people with vaccinations scheduled should pay close attention to the UT Health Austin website for information about the additional shipments for vaccine allocation.

UHS is urging community members to take precaution when walking or driving on ice because the hospitals in the area are already strained with power and water problems. 

UHS recommends everyone continue to wear two masks, one plastic and one cloth, continue to social distance and practice good hand hygiene.

WARMING CENTERS

The San Jacinto Residence Hall multipurpose room will be open as a warming station for students from 8 a.m. to midnight through Sunday. Students must enter through the San Jacinto front door. Mylon Kirksy, senior director of residence life, said after Sunday, the University will determine if it needs to be opened longer. 

The Texas Union will be open as a warming station 24 hours for students, faculty and staff until further notice. David Anthony, University Unions director of business services, said there were 2,201 people who came through the warming station Thursday. Buckley said there is no time limit on how long students can stay at the warming station.

Buckley said ongoing maintenance at the union is not affecting people’s ability to use the facility to its full capacity.

Buckley said staff members working at the Texas Union consist of those who were able to get to campus, such as student workers and resident assistants, who were already on campus.

Gregory Gym is open 24/7 as a warming station until Saturday at 10 p.m. On Sunday, Gregory Gym will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to the UT RecSports website, shower access at Gregory Gym has resumed. Showers will remain open until 8 p.m. 

On Saturday, the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, it will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Recreational Sports Center, Bellmont Hall, Wright-Whitaker Sports Complex and Whitaker Courts will continue to remain closed until at least Monday morning.

Students who live in residence halls or who are residing in emergency housing there can use residence hall showers at this time, Kirksy said. These showers are not open to other students, but Kirksy said this has the possibility to change with need.

Only UT students, faculty and staff and service animals are allowed at the warming stations.

Faculty and staff can also use their offices as a warming center or to charge their devices if they can safely make it to campus, UT tweeted Wednesday morning. 

At this time, there are no plans to open another building as a warming center, but this could change with need, said Jess Cybulski, the assistant director of communications for UT Vice President Student Affairs. She said all warming centers are currently sufficiently staffed, and even if another center is opened, staffing would need to be moved around but would still be sufficient.

The city of Austin also opened 24/7 warming centers throughout the city, and residents should call 512-305-ICEE for the most updated information on cold-weather shelters. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to not use gas range stoves or ovens to heat a space. Cars should also not be used to provide heat in enclosed spaces. At Gov. Greg Abbott’s press conference Wednesday, Christi Craddick, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, said the state has been having problems with carbon monoxide poisoning cases during the storm as a result of residents misusing gas systems.

CAMPUS FOOD OPTIONS

For students experiencing power outages or other housing troubles, both Kinsolving Dining and J2 are open for food and shelter Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 8 p.m. On Monday, Kinsolving Dining and J2 will be open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. All other dining locations will be closed.

Lew said if another dining location is open, it will remain open as long as it can be staffed. 

Students without unlimited meal plans will be asked to pay for food, but those who can’t pay will not be turned away, Lew said Thursday. 

Bird said Thursday all students are being asked to supply a UT EID to verify their identity, but it will not be used to identify students to charge for food. There are no other requirements for students who are unable to pay to present besides an indication that they cannot pay.

A new shipment of food arrived Friday, director of dining Erich Geiger said, but the dining halls were never in a position of food shortage.

The dining halls have been unable to get food deliveries for the past week, so the dining staff is “getting creative” with meals and there is no set menu, Lew said.   

Extra UHD workers, who typically do not work in the dining halls, are serving food due to a shortage of staffers, Lew said. 

Resident assistants are serving food in place of dining hall staff, who couldn't make it to campus due to ice, Bird said. UHD is providing pay compensation for extra hours and work, but this is part of the RA response protocol, Bird said.

“RAs were scheduled to perform duties outside the scope of their normal RA duties for an extended period of time, such as assist in dining centers and assist in monitoring warming centers,” Bird said.

To request emergency food support, fill out the contactless pickup request form on the Office of the Dean of Students website. Regular food assistance requests are unavailable while campus is closed.

UTPD RESPONSE

The Daily Texan received reports in addition to videos seen circulating on social media of students partying on campus on Feb. 15. According to UT President Hartzell’s message on Feb. 14, essential personnel was required to report to work on campus on Feb. 15. This group included campus safety officers and residence hall employees. 

When asked if the students in front of the tower would face any punishment for violating COVID-19 guidelines, Bird said he could not comment on individual cases. He also said UTPD responded to many calls during the week that all resulted in an “educational opportunity” instead of a law enforcement action. 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CLASSES AND PROFESSORS

The University has not made a decision or began discussion on whether the semester will be extended to make up for the lost week, said Joey Williams, director of communications for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. 

Top University admins are urging faculty to extend class deadlines by at least one week when classes resume after they also extended deadlines for their offices, according to a Thursday message from Dan Jaffe, interim executive vice president and provost. 

“When classes do resume, I strongly encourage faculty to similarly extend student deadlines by at least one week and make accommodations, as appropriate,” Jaffe said. “If possible, message your students now (or as soon as you are able) about extensions. That will help reduce some anxiety.”

All in-person and online classes are canceled until at least Wednesday at 8 a.m with a few exceptions according to a Friday message from UT President Jay Hartzell. Faculty members can hold optional lectures, Zoom discussion sections or offer office hours during the day on Monday and Tuesday. Nothing can be required of students or faculty on Monday and Tuesday.

Professors can still have assignments and tests due once classes resume, but nothing should be due while classes are canceled, said Charlotte Canning, the faculty council secretary-elect for 2021-2022, on Tuesday.

Because of academic freedom, UT administration can't control what professors do in their classes. However, if students have professors who are not understanding of their situation, they can reach out to department chairs, deans or advisers to discuss issues.

In the message from Hartzell on Friday, he said the academic calendar will continue to be the same and the University will not remove spring break or extend the semester to make up for lost class time.

UT will cease research operations due to the power outages and boil-water notices, according to an internal memo from Alison Preston, the interim vice president for research.

“The memo was specific about the fact that there could be intermittent and unreliable water and power in the area, particularly water that would be necessary for some of our safety equipment in the lab,” research communications manager Adrienne Dawson said. 

Dawson said it is unclear when research will resume as it depends on the city’s situation.

POWER AT UT

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 UT-owned Gateway Apartments is experiencing outages, and some residents are being relocated to another building. 

WHAT’S CLOSED AT UT

Unknown reopening time:

  • Kins Coffee

  • Jester Java

  • Jester City Market

  • Jesta’ Pizza

  • Cypress Bend Cafe

  • Perry-Castañeda Library Service Desk

  •  

  • Closed until 10a.m. Friday::

    • Perry-Castañeda Library will reopen as study space on Friday at 10 a.m. with hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Friday to Sunday.

    •  

    • Closed until at least 8 a.m. Monday:

  • William C. Powers Student Activity Center

  • Hogg Memorial Auditorium

  • Student Services Building

  • Student Organization Center

  • New Student Services Office

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Editor’s Note: Previously, a story with similar wording and some of the same information was published on the Texan’s website on Feb. 15. The Texan staff is reformatting and adding to that story to better provide information and updates to students. Here is the original story.