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Independent living facility residents feeling overlooked after power outage: 'We were just being overlooked because we're old'

An independent living facility in Dripping Springs was left without power all day Thursday, leaving the residents frightened for their safety.

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — This week of inclement weather left Austinites with icy roads, fallen trees and power outages throughout the area. But extreme conditions like what Central Texas has seen can be hard for our elderly population

Residents at Ledgestone Independent Living in Dripping Springs were left without power all day Thursday, and it left them feeling ignored. 

"We were just being overlooked because we're old," Resident Dee Karp said. "And we're not assisted living, we're independent living, but we still need a certain amount of care." 

For the entire day on Thursday, residents were left in the "dark" and "cold,"  enduring pitch black hallways and an incessant alarm system. 

"We have a lot of people who are incapacitated, we have people in bed and being cared for by others," Carol Morton, another resident, said. 

"It was a dangerous thing for people to try to walk down the halls," Karp said. "It was going off all day long, off and on, and off and on." 

Karp says the facility had little success reaching their power company or finding anyone that could help them. This left residents feeling like they were "not a priority," and called the entire experience "frustrating." 

"We just want to be heard, we want our voices heard when we have problems," Karp said. 

"We've got a couple of hundred people here, this ought to be a relatively high priority facility for someone to check on," Resident Tom Rhyne said. 

The residents are asking for more help in case any further inclement weather returns to the area.

"Somebody should have recognized that this was the place, that they had a temporary generator, they could have come in and at least get us the lights," Rhyne said. "Somebody ought to recognize every now and then we're gonna get an ice storm." 

Karp and other residents stress the staff at Ledgestone were fantastic, but they don't want another repeat of this situation. 

"We're still people, we're still viable people and we just want to be treated as such," Karp said. 

Ledgestone receives its power from Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC). PEC provided KVUE with the following statement regarding the incident at the facility:

"Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is committed to providing safe, reliable power for our members, including our most vulnerable. We work closely with these members who require and also provide life-sustaining resources by communicating and prioritizing these locations during times of planned outages.

"In extreme conditions and energy emergencies, our staff works to give these members advanced notice for outages. However, PEC cannot guarantee uninterrupted power. This is especially true in extreme weather events. We encourage our members — especially those with medical needs or facilities caring for those with medical needs — to have an emergency plan, including backup generation if necessary. 

"Please contact PEC if you need to be added to the Medical Necessity and Critical Load Programs. Members must apply for both programs for which we mail out state-required notices twice a year."

PEC Operations also explained that Dripping Springs was one of the areas in Central Texas that received extensive damage:

"The Dripping Springs community is one of the areas where we've seen some of the most extensive damage. There is damage from icing and vegetation that requires difficult work. We are working tirelessly to bring power back to our members and won't rest until every PEC member is restored."

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