They melted snow. They used water from tubs they had the foresight to fill. They scoured grocery stores and convenience stores for bottled water.
But still, the water ran out.
Thousands of Austinites continue to live without running water after a week of below freezing temperatures and resulting power outages. The leaking from cracked and broken pipes has depleted the city’s water storage, an issue further compounded when power failed at an Austin Water treatment plant earlier in the week.
With warmer temperatures making the roads safer, Austin residents have ventured from their homes in search of clean water and have found it at breweries, fire hydrants and community donation sites.
Anna Lombardo and her sister, Linda, have been without water in their South Austin home since Wednesday. On Friday, they spent four hours driving around in search of bottled water. They had no luck.
“I’ve been going from south to everywhere just looking for water,” the younger Lombardo, Anna, said.
On Saturday, they heard that local breweries, which typically house large water tanks, were filling up containers people brought from home. The Lombardos drove to Pinthouse Pizza in South Austin that morning with several gallon jugs they had. Half of the 8 gallons they’d collect was going to an elderly neighbor.
It was better than what they’d been doing — shoveling snow into pails, letting it melt and then boiling it.
“It takes forever for the ice to melt,” Anna said. “You have to make sure it’s clean. When you melt ice, it doesn’t really give a lot. You have to keep shoveling more just to get a pail of water.”
Anna said she was disappointed with the lack of information from the City of Austin government about where to find water.
Austin and Travis County officials announced Saturday that water would be available only to those in dire need of it at several cold weather shelters across the city. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he expects mass water-distribution sites to open in the city’s 10 districts Sunday, but provided no additional information.
Wen Zhang said the state seemed entirely unprepared for the winter weather, but she didn’t blame the government.
“We may not have this for another 30 years,” she said. “Maybe I won’t be able to see the next [disaster].”
Zhang lost water in her home Wednesday afternoon after not having power for nearly three days. She and her family began shoveling snow from their back deck into coolers, waiting for it to melt.
On Saturday, Zhang watched as firefighters with the Jollyville Fire Department in…