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Austin City Council plans 'resilience hubs' in wake of February storms

The hubs would serve as emergency shelters to deal with future disasters.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's City Council approved a resolution starting the process to make "resilience hubs" in the wake of February's storms. They would serve as emergency shelters to deal with future disasters.

The hubs at schools and other community buildings throughout the city would have the capacity to serve as shelters, evacuation centers and/or disaster response hubs during emergencies. During non-disaster times, they would serve as community centers offering City services and resources.

The City Council resolution directs the city manager to explore the option of equipping the resilience hubs with backup power and water storage capable of maintaining operations during an extended power outage, with other resources to meet basic needs.

The city manager will return to the city council by June with a plan and timeline for creating a citywide network of hubs, as well as a plan and budget for establishing six hubs within the next year, Councilmember Kathie Tovo said.

“We know climate shocks are going to come with greater frequency, and we must do this work with our community now, before the next major event occurs,” said Tovo. “City plans that foster community preparedness not only reduce recovery costs – they save lives.”

RELATED: Winter storms: How prepared were Central Texas roads for the weather blast?

Resolution co-sponsor France Acuna of Go Austin/Vamos Austin (GAVA) said it’s not if "but when the next disaster strikes."

“We should be asking what the City can do for us and what we can do to improve our ability to help ourselves,” said Acuna. “During the hardest part of the storm, it was neighbors helping neighbors. Next time, we need better coordination to make sure the right help gets to the right people. This is the beginning of a new plan to be better prepared in the future.”

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