Fair Oaks Ranch residents, thousands of whom lost power Wednesday night, came close to having to boil their water as well.
Transmission lines owned by a neighboring utility slowed CPS Energy’s ability to restore power to the municipality of roughly 10,500 people, which was forced to issue a water conservation notice because a water pumping station lost power.
Power was restored to the station Thursday afternoon, said a Fair Oaks Ranch official, and CPS Energy crews worked all day to restore power to the municipality that straddles Bexar, Comal and Kendall counties.
More than 7,000 customers in the area were affected at the height of the outages, according to CPS Energy, which said power lines owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) were damaged and impacted a substation serving customers in that area.
CPS Energy was able to connect some customers to other circuits, but had to wait on LCRA to get damaged lines and equipment fixed before it could restore power to others.
That work appeared to be complete, as the number of customers without power dropped rapidly Thursday. Fewer than 300 customers remained without power as of 4 p.m. , and CPS Energy said all weather-related outages had been restored by Thursday night.
‘It’s been rough’
Several dozen Fair Oaks residents took advantage of CPS Energy’s mobile support center, which the utility stationed at Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary School. The center offered charging stations, a warm seating area, coffee and breakfast. Inside the trailer, families mingled and charged their devices.
Ron Stone, a 30-year resident of Fair Oaks, said his family was relying on their fireplace to keep warm while the power was out. He said he learned of CPS Energy’s mobile unit from his homeowners association.
Resident Ron Nadura sipped coffee while his wife charged her phone. “It’s been rough,” she said.
Though ice had finally started to melt across the San Antonio area, the storm left visible damage across neighborhoods. Many trees and shrubs were destroyed by the ice; others lost limbs to the heavy ice accumulation, obstructing driveways.
Spokeswoman Joanna Merrill said Fair Oaks Ranch was coordinating with its waste provider to organize a tree debris pickup soon.
Widespread tree damage in Timberwood Park
While Fair Oaks Ranch residents waited for power to return, homeowners in Timberwood Park, many of whom also dealt with power outages, were surveying severe tree damage.
CPS Energy reported it was responding to at least 21 downed wires in the area, many from toppled trees. In some cases, workers were climbing trees to make repairs, the utility said in a release Thursday.
Gary Nix stood outside his Timberwood Park home talking to landscapers who had just arrived to address an oak tree that crashed into his daughter’s bedroom the day before.
“It knocked a hole that’s probably 8 feet by 8 feet and then came through the [stone] wall, broke all the studs and the sheetrock, and broke the bed,” Nix said. His daughter was away at Texas State University at the time.
Nix had just walked outside to meet CPS Energy lineworkers who were there to restore power to his home when the tree smashed into his home. Nix called it “unbelievable.”
“We moved into this neighborhood because of the trees, but this is kind of crazy,” he said.
Nix said this storm appeared to have affected mature trees specifically, and speculated that the drought may have weakened the trees, which then couldn’t handle the weight of the ice.
Meanwhile, landscapers and tree specialists were posting signs in affected neighborhoods and driving around offering their services.
Where to report damage
In the wake of the ice event that affected many parts of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to report any damage to their homes or businesses to the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) Damage Survey, which helps emergency management officials understand where damage occurred and assists officials in determining whether the state qualifies for any type of federal disaster assistance.
The survey can be filled out in English or Spanish here. Just click on “Ice Storm/Winter Weather January 29 – Ongoing.”
CPS Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.