AUSTIN, Texas — Mark DuBois’ home may have been one of the first in Austin to lose water. He can recall the moment he lost it like it was yesterday.
“The 15th, at 1:15 in the morning. I called at 1:42 [a.m.] and reported it,” DuBois said.
DuBois says he called the Austin Water Emergency Service line and spoke to a person early Monday morning.
“She said ok, I’ll report it but it’ll probably be Tuesday before I can do anything about it,” DuBois recalls.
He’s still waiting. Since then, he’s spent about 45 minutes a day waiting to speak to someone on the same emergency line, but no one ever picks up. Thursday, the line was busy from the minute he dialed the number.
“It’s bad,” DuBois said. “I just want to know if that lady I talked to Monday morning put me on a list. Right now, it doesn’t seem like it.”
DuBois says his power went out early Sunday morning, but a call about that had a crew out and power back on in under two hours.
Now, DuBois is collecting ice and snow and boiling it to fill the toilet. It’s resourcefulness is seen not just in Austin, but across Texas as people continue to suffer through frigid temperatures without power or water.
“You fill a five gallon bucket of snow. You melt it, it’s now one-fifth of a bucket,” DuBois said.
DuBois noted he has thoroughly checked his pipes but he’s found nothing to indicate his pipes are frozen.
A waterfall of effects are hurting his chance of having water anytime soon. Austin Water reported Wednesday that water use surpassed typical usage by 250% over the previous 24 hours due to dripping faucets, pipe leaks, and line breaks.
In a press conference Thursday, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said the biggest things causing a delay in restoration are a methodical process of checking the city’s water system for leaks, and keeping demand lower while refilling reservoirs. Meszaros said starting the system without checking it could lead to a repeat of current events.
DuBois says it has been near impossible to find bottled water which he and his family need for drinking, bathing and brushing their teeth. Fortunately, he got lucky and found water and was able to get fuel for his truck.
“I’ll go out of town to find water if I have to,” DuBois said.
At least one of his neighbors still has running water and has offered to help his family if all else fails.
“I hate having to bother the neighbors for that, but you gotta do what you gotta do and it’s nice of her to offer,” DuBois said.