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February 2021 winter storm: Austin leaders mark one-year anniversary

City leaders issued a proclamation declaring February as "Winter Storm Uri Remembrance Month" and held a moment of silence for those who died due to the storm.

AUSTIN, Texas — This week marks the one-year anniversary of the winter storm that claimed the lives of hundreds of Texans and left millions cold and without power. 

On Feb. 15, the Austin City Council and other leadership honored those who played a critical role during last February’s winter storm. The meeting included a proclamation declaring February as "Winter Storm Uri Remembrance Month," as well as a moment of silence for those who died due to the storm’s impacts.

Speakers included council members Vanessa Fuentes, Kathie Tovo, Ann Kitchen, Chito Vela and Mackenzie Kelly, along with Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter. Community members Nathan Ryan and Paul Saldaña also spoke at the event. 

Volunteers, City employees and nonprofit organizations who provided mutual aid accepted the proclamation on behalf of the countless Austinites who supported each other during the storm.

Watch the City's winter storm remembrance proclamation and moment of silence here: 

"I know that time was really tough for us, and so I think it's important that we come here today and show up to recognize our community heroes," Fuentes said.

Adler thanked all the volunteer and community organizations representing those who helped in the winter storm and the many Austinites who stepped up to help others. 

"When it was over and I had the first quiet time to think about what had transpired, my thought at the time was, 'Thank goodness for a community that reached out to help one another.' Because absent that ... we would not have weathered this storm the way that we did," Adler said.

Adler said he thought about whether or not local government had failed amid the winter storm. He said he had an epiphany that "no local government can ever bring what is necessary for a community to survive a catastrophe of the level we saw."

"It will always involve the community stepping forward," Adler said. "Neighbors helping neighbors. Communities helping others. That level of catastrophe happening to a community. Those things take a community coming together."

Adler said the lesson he learned was to do a better job of institutionalizing community response to elevate and extend the reach of "neighbors helping neighbors."

KVUE looked back at the storm one year later in our After the Freeze special report. You can watch that report here.

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