Gov. Abbott issues disaster declaration for Texas counties impacted by ice storm
TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Texas counties impacted by this past week's ice storm.
The disaster declaration includes Denton, Hays, Henderson, Milam, Smith, Travis and Williamson Counties—all of which experienced power outages, widespread property damage and hazardous travel disruptions.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the governor said he will continue to ensure communities will have the resources and support they need to recover.
"Through this disaster declaration, we will be able to provide additional assistance to Texans and communities who have experienced property damage and localized power outages from this ice storm."
Gov. Abbott also encourages Texans to report damages to the iSTAT damage survey, so that the state can meet "all needs in the recovery process."
Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties have been hit particularly hard as some Austin residents are still without power Saturday.
Some residents say they're frustrated that no answers are being offered as to when their electricity will return.
"There's just no communication from (Austin Energy) about when we're going to get help," said Christy Kale, who lives in south Austin.
"There are elderly people" in the neighborhood, Kale said. "Children, people who need medical equipment, it's just wrong" that no one with the energy company will say when power is expected to be restored.
Officials with Austin Energy did not immediately return phone calls for comment on Saturday.
The energy company's website said crews were working around the clock "through complicated repairs to restore power to customers."
The company said power may return intermittently as work continued to repair the system.
Both Kale and fellow south Austin resident Greta Olivas said they have been unable since Friday to speak by phone with a person when trying to contact the power provider for the city of nearly 1 million people, Austin Energy.
Both also said they just want to know when to expect power to return.
"If I had an answer, if it was, 'Oh, there's an area with bigger problems, it's going to take the weekend (before power is restored)'...we would know what to do...we could go to a hotel," Olivas said.
Statewide, the number of outages had fallen to below 125,000 on Saturday, down from a peak of 430,000 customers without power on Thursday.
The storm, which swept into the region Monday, has been blamed for at least 12 traffic fatalities deaths in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
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