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I wanted to take a moment to follow-up with you and give you an update on recent events. The past few weeks have put our community to the test, and I am happy to say that we have pulled through it together.
So often, our City staff work behind the scenes without having the spotlight shone on their outstanding efforts to keep Bedford safe and running. As always, our Police and Fire Departments continue to answer the call. During the winter storm week, fire personnel responded to roughly three times the normal amount of fire and emergency calls. Our police officers were also busy responding to around 30 vehicle accidents and 50 welfare checks throughout that week. Public Works staff answered 1,000 calls and worked around the clock to respond to water main breaks, sand roads, and assist residents with their waterline needs. I cannot give enough thanks to our emergency services that worked 24 hours a day to assist our community through this crisis.
The City is still taking steps to resolve the locked water meter box situation. To recap, the City is not penalizing anyone who needs to open their water meter box. Our Communications Department put out a helpful video on their YouTube channel, social media channels, and website to guide residents through the process of doing that and the various tools that can be used. To view it directly, please visit https://bit.ly/37RA6It.
Residents are still able to call the Public Works department at 817-952- or 817-952-2127 after-hours and a Public Works staff member will come to their home to personally help them unlock it or provide other waterline assistance. Although they’re still responding to urgent calls, they’ve already begun unlocking the water boxes in masse, neighborhood by neighborhood based on requests. This is a large task so we appreciate your patience as this process continues.
We hear and understand your frustration with the locked water meter boxes. City Council will be reviewing this ordinance in March and will vote on any necessary Code and policy changes to ensure residents will no longer be penalized to access their water meter box in the future.
Our Economic Development department has waived the fees associated with building and construction permits for the next three months to make it easier for everyone to fix their damaged homes and businesses. While you’ll still need to obtain the various permits necessary to make the repairs safely, there will be no charge for these permits.
Our Customer Service Division is developing a plan to address water bills, but for now, will eliminate late fees and water shut-offs. At the end of the month, our utility billing department will evaluate everyone’s bill on a case-by-case basis and are prepared to credit your bill accordingly.
To say that anyone could be ready for a once-in-a-lifetime event like this would be untrue, but we are working quickly to address issues that have resulted from this weather event. To help everyone with their recovery efforts, we’ve assembled important information that will assist individuals and businesses at bedfordtx.gov/stormrecovery. Aside from state and federal resources, the City is providing temporary changes to local laws, so that our community can become whole again.
Please continue to be conservative with your water usage as we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to a potential boil water advisory. Our water supplier has informed the City there are still issues obtaining the necessary chemicals to ensure we have clean drinking water. There’s no need to panic, but rather please take steps to be conservative such as only running your dishwasher when it’s full, shutting the faucet off while you're brushing your teeth, and taking shorter showers. We can all do our part to help our water supplier get back to normal.
Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to many of you regarding these events. I have witnessed first-hand so many examples of courageousness and acts of genuine kindness from you to our fellow friends and neighbors. Hearing about, and witnessing, acts such as clearing snow from neighbors’ sidewalks, people delivering free firewood to homes, donating water and food to shelters, driving people on dangerous roads to run errands, and picking up medicine for others are all examples of the things that make our community great. With all that in mind, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you. Your actions continue to inspire me to serve you better.