AUSTIN, Texas - Mayor Watson spoke out at a press conference surrounded by city and county officials to express Austin’s preparedness for the possibility of extreme winter conditions and storms this season.
"Let's face it, we've learned a lot of lessons since Winter Storm Uri, and we found out we hadn't learned them well enough during Winter Storm Mara," said Mayor Watson.
The mayor pointed out the changes in leadership made to ensure Austin's readiness, including when the city let go the previous city manager following ice storm Maura earlier this year.
"I promised one of the things we would do is we would shake up and stabilize the way the management of operations happened in this building and that is one of the areas where we have done that and that was a very specific example of where it needed to be done," said Mayor Watson.
City and county officials say they have been preparing for months to be ready for anything winter may throw their way.
"We prepare year round for extreme weather, and we begin in September," said Bob Kahn, Austin Energy’s General Manager.
Kahn says over 10 million trees were either killed or knocked down onto power lines, causing a city-wide power outage earlier this year. To prepare for any upcoming extreme weather this time around, he says vegetation crews have been and will continue to focus on tree trimming.
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Austin Water is working on their own preps. This includes winterizing infrastructure, testing backup generators, and continuing contracts in case additional equipment is needed. On top of that, Austin Water employees have the necessary supplies to work around the clock if needed.
"We also have food, water, cots, supplies at our plants so that our staff can work 24/7 to provide plant operations and minimize service interruptions," said Anna Bryan-Borja, Austin Water's Assistant Director of Business Services.
As for roads, Austin's Transportation Department has added equipment and trained personnel to ensure critical roadways and bridges are safe to use during a potential winter storm.
"Our aim is to ensure that all critical roadways and bridges throughout our city are either deiced, pretreated, or snow removal within 24 hours," said Richard Mendoza, Director of Transportation and Public Works.