AUSTIN, Texas — A draft report from the City of Austin’s Office of the City Auditor comes to the conclusion most residents were already aware of: the city was unprepared for the severe winter storm that devastated Texas in February, leading to “a less effective and disorganized response.”

What You Need To Know

  • A newly released draft audit finds the City of Austin was unprepared for the winter storm that gripped Texas in February 2021

  • The report says the city failed to implement previous recommendations for disaster response

  • The Office of the City Auditor provided 10 recommendations, all of which city leaders agreed with

  • The audit is set to be presented to members of the Austin City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 10

The audit, which the office was directed to conduct back in March, will be presented to members of the Austin City Council beginning at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The storm left millions of people without power across the state, cost billions and claimed the lives of at least 200 people. In Austin, the story was much the same.

Most importantly, the audit found that the city failed to implement past recommendations for a disaster such as this.

The audit, among other things, found the city did not anticipate prolonger power and water outages, had no plan for snow removal and was not prepared “for a widespread disaster, such as a citywide, regional, or statewide disaster.” Examples include a failure to address backup power or water for shelter operations and an assumption that supplies including food and water could be obtained locally.

The report additionally found that communication was lacking during the six-day period of freezing weather.

“Beyond those challenges, the City did not communicate effectively with Austin residents in the days leading up to or during Winter Storm Uri, so residents were left without critical information that may have helped them stay safe. Additionally, the City’s disaster planning and preparedness efforts are not equity focused. As a result, the City’s response to Winter Storm Uri did not effectively serve all residents, including people experiencing homelessness, seniors, and other vulnerable populations,” the audit reads.

The 38-page report includes a list of 10 recommendations for future disasters focused on revising response plans, increasing staff and emergency supplies on hand and improving communications with the public. City management agrees with all 10 recommendations.

The scope of the report is limited to the city’s preparedness and efforts and did not take into account technical aspects of the city’s infrastructure or private infrastructure within the city or response activities from other entities including school districts, counties and Capital Metro. Also not factored in were 911 and 311 call center operations or Austin Water and Austin Energy technical operations.

However, Austin Energy and Austin Water produced reports of their own following the storm.