Stop, Shower Time
So we finally have full pressure running water, and as of yesterday I flipped the breaker on the hot water heater so we could wash clothes and shower. We still can't drink it yet. Like most of the greater Austin area water systems ours is under a boil notice for the next several days. This is, of course, causing folks to go out and buy bottled water or fill up from places in Round Rock or Georgetown who didn't lose power to the water pumps. Several breweries (because they can boil giant vats of water) are offering free container fill-ups if you can get out to them.
To answer TMO's question about road prep, no we have maybe one? spreader truck per county. Usually they don't use salt but sand (which when it melts and dries up results in slippery dry dust.) on the roads to ensure emergency services can get around on main roads. A few tractors were out after a few days to try and scrape up ice from the streets in some areas but that's really really bad for our roads. But yeah, any winter weather will shut down overpasses, toll roads, bridges, etc due to ice buildup. When we were out trying to cut the water off at the curb we saw folks trying to drive (escape) out of the hood, wheels spinning faster than the car was going. There had to be 2-3 inches of solid ice from curb to curb. Like, we had to use a shovel to break up the 1 inch that formed on top of the snow to walk across the yard and still nearly slipped.
The biggest issue now that the temps are in the 60-70's isn't keeping warm so much as it is getting water running again. With power out for several days everywhere the pumps froze up since the water couldn't move. There are photos somewhere of giant basketball sized industrial pipe joints just cracked open like an egg. These things had to be replaced, power turned back on, and then wait for the ice to thaw enough to start pumping without further damage. Running water through frozen pipes at full blast busts the hell right out of the pipes in the walls which many folks in our neighborhood discovered. Mostly the two story houses and places in town with exposed plumbing in the ceilings/walls. Not every place uses insulation around them because it rarely freezes that bad (running water is enough). Several neighbors have busted hot water heaters, busted interior wall pipes, and such. There was one community that didn't turn on the sewer pumps before the water came back and blew sewage up through the homes toilets/faucets/etc. Let's just say insurance companies, plumbers, contractors, and lawyers will be busy for the next several months around here.
All but a handful of streets in town have power back, and our water system is at full pressure. The one in town is still filling up but should be up to code soon. Austin proper is still having trouble getting their water levels back to normal because of extensive damage as well as psycho's deciding to wash cars, fill pools, and water their yards.
The grocery stores are restocking every day but no milk to be found anywhere. Some places have eggs, and if you go early enough you can get bottled water. We're still good on food and drinking water for the next day or two so we might venture to HEB soon to get bread and such. In fact a handful of restaurants have opened back up so today we were able to get some burgers and fries which was nice after a week of reheated canned food and such. We're just lucky the only thing that broke here was the A/C condensation exhaust pipe next to the house. That we can fix ourselves.