AUSTIN, Texas — The winter weather in our forecast is bringing up a lot of feelings after last February's deadly winter storms. Since then, City of Austin and State agencies have done a lot of work to prepare for future winter weather events.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined KVUE Daybreak on Wednesday, Feb. 2, to discuss those preparations.
Below is an abridged transcript of the interview.
KVUE's Yvonne Nava: What is the City doing today to prepare for Thursday and Friday?
Austin Mayor Steve Adler: "Well, as you might imagine, there were a lot of lessons to be learned from, from a year ago and that, as your weather report indicated, folks are already out on the streets trying to try to get them ready. Pretty extensive after-action reports, I think there were 132 specific things that the City of Austin identified, Austin Energy, Austin Water each went through their own after-action reports. We've been monitoring what they're actually acting on the matters that were identified. There are a lot of alerts. There are a lot of places to be able to go to be able to stay in touch. There have been a lot of emails and communications going out to different parts of the community. This does not appear to be going to be as extensive or as long as what we saw in the past, but it's going to get cold tonight."
Nava: Speaking on that, this storm tomorrow is different than the winter storms last year, as you mentioned. It's definitely different. But energy, of course, is still a big concern. So, what is this City doing to make sure that people's lights stay on?
Adler: "You know, we're, we're hoping that the State grid holds because that was really the significant problem last time. But we've been going out and taking tree limbs off of the overhangs over power lines and doing hundreds and hundreds of those – still have not gotten them all done. But a lot more than what we had before, and that was one of the chief problems we have. The tree limbs ice up and they fall and then they break lines."
Nava: Considering, you know, dealing with this being more of an ice situation, an ice event, roads may be an issue in the days to come. Let's talk about the new tactics that are in place this time around. Will they be better equipped to handle the ice? And then the other thing that we're pointing out, or Shane [Hinton's] pointing out, is that there's going to be some rain in the forecast. So, if they do treat the roads, that could be washed away by overnight into tomorrow. So, it just kind of seems like a moot point there. So, let's talk about ways that the roads can be better equipped to handle this.
Adler: "Well, we're doing everything that we can. Public Works is out working on the roads right now. We've added equipment. We've added supplies. But you point out something, I think, which is real important, which is, in any emergency, you can't control for everything that's going to happen. So, there's a lot of personal responsibility that's involved here. Everybody should be making their emergency kits, everybody should be knowing their neighbors to know who it is that might be particularly vulnerable so that you could reach out to them. Everybody should be making their own individual plans. People should be staying home when they can stay home."
Nava: Central Texas is all very connected. I know you talked about community. We are a close-knit community in a lot of ways. Are you perhaps in contact with leaders from places like Round Rock or Bastrop to maybe work on preparations, maybe to team up or kind of help each other with just some information that you can share that might be beneficial?
Adler: "You know, to a large degree, the responses are regional. We have lots of different jurisdictions, a lot of different agencies constantly talking to one another. We'll have our Emergency Operation Command call here in about two hours, and that call will take place during the day as it's needed and into tonight and into tomorrow. So yes, there's coordination that's happening."
Nava: And again, so how is the City again prepared to act if there are outages? What do you have ready?
Adler: "We have all the staff that's on standby, all the equipment that's on standby. We're taking the early and precautionary measures that we can so that we can, so that we can respond. But it's going to be cold, there's going to be ice. It's inevitable that there'll be some lines that are down. And we all just need to hang tough together."
Nava: Have you done anything personally to kind of prepare?
Adler: "Yes, I have my plan for it tomorrow. I have my home kit, you know, with water and other kinds of things that – just in case anything should happen. This is something that we should all be doing."
In addition to speaking with Adler, KVUE spoke with other Central Texas mayors throughout the day Wednesday.
Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale
Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales
Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales also joined KVUE on Wednesday:
Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan
Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan joined KVUE on Wednesday as well.
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