Tuesday, February 7, 2023

City Manager Apologizes for Shortcomings in Ice Storm Response


"We have already learned many lessons and we will do better," said Spencer Cronk

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk made the following remarks at Council Work Session on Tuesday morning:

The impact of this event has been profound, and I understand that many have suffered as a result. As a father with two children of my own, I have no doubt that there are many other parents who struggled caring for their families in these unfair and unbearable circumstances.
Now, I feel like we’ve become a little desensitized to the word “unprecedented” over the past few years, but this storm truly was historic in so many ways. As the chairman of the state’s Public Utility Commission described it, an ice hurricane swept through our community with a brutal and unyielding force. The storm caused widespread power outages and have left many of you without heat and electricity. I acknowledge, share, and feel your frustration and anger. 
Every storm is different and presents its own unique challenges. For this disaster, we have already learned many lessons and we will do better. I am certain of it. We are still in the midst of recovery, but we will analyze every step of this event and implement changes that will make us better prepared for the next natural disaster and ensure we can protect, inform and assist our residents. Moving forward, we are committed to improving our response and supporting you in the face of these challenges. We will be working closely with meteorologists and other experts to better understand the factors that contributed to this weather event, and to develop more effective strategies for responding to similar incidents in the future. We will also be reviewing our budget and resources to determine what improvements we can make in order to better serve our community in the face of these types of emergencies.  
As a community and as a wider society, we are only just beginning to understand the destructive impact that these extreme weather events will have on our lives in the years to come. No amount of preparation or planning can entirely shield us from the destructive side of nature, and it is important to be transparent about our limitations and to work together to find solutions. 
As we are still in the middle of responding to this emergency and with more weather on the way, my focus continues to be on supporting the recovery efforts. Austin Energy has coordinated the largest collaborative effort in the city’s history, with utilities from as far away as Louisiana and Alabama arriving to help restore power to customers. We have more than 1,000 crew members working on the remaining power outages.
Once again, I offer my heartfelt apologies for any shortcomings in our response. I want you to know that I am committed to doing everything in my power to support our community. As we weather this storm and those to come, we will be stronger together.