Monday, February 13, 2023

Historic Clean-up Effort Follows Devastating Ice Storm

Recovery and clean-up efforts continue and extensive progress has been made nearly two weeks after a historic ice storm swept through Austin. More than 100,000 cubic yards of storm debris has been cleared away, nearly all rights-of-way have been cleared of downed trees and branches and power has been restored across the community thanks in part to collaboration with partner utilities spanning several states.

“I am so thankful for the hard work and dedication of thousands of city staff, volunteers and partner agencies who rallied to help in storm recovery efforts,” City Manager Spencer Cronk said. “This was a historic event with catastrophic impact on our community. Once again, the resilience and commitment of our residents, business owners, community organizations and City employees were on display as everyone did their part getting the City on its feet again.”

The City’s response to the storm is now squarely focused on citywide clean up and community recovery. Crews from multiple departments are mobilized clearing storm debris and clearing downed power lines.

“This storm had a devastating impact on our community. Our efforts throughout this event have been on life safety and supporting the most vulnerable, including the unhoused, and in making sure everyone stayed home and off the roads. We believe these efforts saved lives and allowed emergency services to respond to calls. The ice storm progressed quickly and as it began impacting the tree canopy and power service, the EOC pivoted to provide sheltering and food, and support debris clearance and power restoration efforts,” said Aoife Longmore, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Deputy Director. “We are in a more stable place with weather conditions but are still in recovery, and are actively working with non-governmental organizations and community groups to support those in need.”

Clean-up and Recovery Numbers to Date

Power Restored to All Customers with Storm-related Outages

More than 99.9% of Austin Energy customers have power. Outages currently on the outage map are not directly related to the storm. Since the start of the storm, Austin Energy restored power to more than 373,000 customers.
Austin Energy is working directly with a small number of customers who remain without power because of damage on customer-owned equipment that needs a licensed electrician to repair.
For more information, see Austin Energy’s press release.

Beware of Scams

Emergencies bring out scammers. They are already taking advantage of this natural disaster. Scammers sound urgent, scary or even overly positive and friendly. They offer bogus discounts on utility bills or say they have rebates. Then they steal customer credit card information.
Austin Energy will never ask for your credit card or wire transfer information over the phone. If you get a suspicious call about your account, hang up. Then call Austin Energy Customer Care at 512-494-9400. Learn more about how to spot scams.

Event Response, Coordination and Shelter Services

The Austin Travis County Emergency Operations Center (ATCEOC) was activated beginning January 30 with a situational assessment team moving to a full Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activation through Feb. 12 with 24 hour a day response coverage. The City of Austin and Travis County have signed local disaster declarations from the winter storm Declaration of Disaster-Severe Winter Weather.
Cold Weather Shelters were opened with the support of the City’s contractor, the Austin Area Urban League, from Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 and again on Feb. 10, and served approximately 2,000 people over the course of the event. Additionally, with many departments and agencies closed, the City was able to provide 66 rides to people needing access to shelters.

The EOC led the opening of general emergency shelters for people with power outages. Shelters were activated for 10 nights and served 49 guests and three pets with 20 cases of water at the ready.

In coordination with HSEM, Texas Department of Emergency Management brought in the Forestry Service to support debris clean up and volunteers to help field calls from residents needing support for clean up on private property.

To support reimbursement efforts, the EOC began to collect damage assessments for potential reimbursement of response and repair costs to the city. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to report their damage to the State using the iStat tool.  

Recovery Efforts and Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCS)

The City encourages all residents in need to visit the "virtual" resource center which can be accessed online 24/7.
MARCs supported Austin-Travis County families that were impacted by the storm.  Community organizations and city departments came together to support 151 families and provide 500 meals at the MARC that closed on Saturday. Over four days, MARCs provided 589 families with more t
han 1400 meals.

Clearance of Debris in Rights-of-Way

Approximately 180 Austin Public Works employees continue to work today to clear the right-of-way of downed trees and debris. That includes a Street & Bridge crew that is responding to reports of hanging tree limbs. Through coordination with TDEM the Texas A&M Forest Service has also provided saw teams to assist in debris removal.

Crews are using a grid system approach to methodically address debris that is located on streets and sidewalks across the city. The initial assessment of the City’s grid system map has been completed and crews have cleared debris from more than 1,412 sites. The effort to clear the full city's rights-of-way may take another week or more. At least 20 crews will be dedicated to debris clearing throughout this week. Please use caution while traveling and slow down around work crews.

Limb Removal Around Power Lines and Clearance of Debris on Private Property

Utility crews continue to work on removing limbs around power lines. If cut limbs land on private property, property owners are responsible for discarding these limbs. Please bring all limbs to the curb for collection by Austin Resource Recovery. Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) has increased the help it is getting from contractors to speed up storm debris collection efforts. More than 70 crews are collecting large branches and tree limbs from ARR customers. So far, over 115,781 cubic yards of storm debris have been collected in more than 2,085 loads.

ARR customers can request a collection of large storm debris by calling 3-1-1 (or 512-974-2000) or submitting a storm debris collection request through the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app or at Limbs should be at the curb ready for collection.
Customers can also drop off tree limbs and branches at no charge at Austin Water’s Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant, 2210 FM 973, Austin, daily from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. More than 2,604 loads of storm debris have been dropped off at the facility by customers, weighing in at 1,170 (through February 11). Learn more at

Anyone who is physically unable to move limbs should contact Austin 3-1-1 for support by dialing 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 by phone, using the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app or at Residents with physical limitations or financial needs requiring help cleaning up winter storm debris can also request volunteer assistance through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. File a request by completing this form or calling 512-806-0800. (Note that this phone line is for new requests only.)

Utility Resources

This week Austin City Council waived late-payment fees on City of Austin utility bills with due dates between Jan. 31 – Feb. 17, 2023, to assist customers who experienced outages, storm damage or postal delays.
Here are some links to additional resources:

Code Compliance Resources

The Austin Code Department remains dedicated to addressing unsafe conditions that put the health and welfare of our community at risk and to serving as an educational resource to impacted residents. Residents with code violation concerns are encouraged to submit those by calling 3-1-1 (or 512-974-2000, through the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app or at

Parkland Assessments and Cleanup

Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) crews have nearly completed parkland assessments at Austin's 330 public parks and other PARD-managed properties. Due to the severity of the storm, tree remediation will likely take months. PARD crews have begun cleanup and tree pruning, with hanging branches being their top priority. PARD is also working to add warning signs to priority sites encouraging visitors to use caution. When visiting a park, please be aware of your surroundings and be cautious around trees until remediation is complete.