Friday, December 17, 2021

Planning Exercise Prepares Austin for the Next Winter Storm


The City of Austin and Travis County are working to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming winter season, and any potential disasters, following the damaging impact of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. 

Today, City of Austin and Travis County departments along with other government agencies, volunteer organizations, critical infrastructure, and private sector businesses met at the Austin Convention Center to discuss the needs of the community, if it were to face another severe or prolonged winter storm. It was part of an effort to ready the City, County, and community for future impacts of the climate crisis and other potential hazards.  

Led by the City’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Travis County Office of Emergency Management, today was an opportunity for a number of organizations to discuss possible response and recovery plans following a hypothetical major winter event and its aftermath that would likely impair utilities, transportation and other key infrastructure. 

The event covered a range of areas including planning, critical transportation, infrastructure systems, logistics and supply chain management, public health, Emergency Medical Services and communications. 

The five-hour discussion also considered how emergency plans might need to be amended or adapted in anticipation of this type of event. Feedback will support updates to City of Austin and Travis County policies and procedures. 

Representatives from the City included Austin Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, and Travis County Judge Andy Brown. Multiple organizations also invited to attend included grocery stores, retailers, chambers of commerce, hotel and lodging representatives, and other volunteer organizations that provide critical services to the community.  

“With every unprecedented event, there are lessons to be learned about our preparation, planning and response,” said Homeland Security Emergency Management Director Juan Ortiz. “Today’s event – which included representatives from government, private sector and non-governmental organizations - is part of that process.” 

As the winter season begins, the City’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is asking residents to prepare before any disaster that happens by making a plan, knowing their neighbors, and staying informed. Residents can visit to learn about the tools available to help with emergency preparedness. Additionally, residents are also encouraged to begin building emergency kits and supplies now – including enough water, food, batteries, radio and first aid – for up to seven days.  

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