Austin was disorganized, unprepared for winter storm, says city auditor

February's winter storm was unprecedented and deadly. Now a recent audit by the City of Austin said city officials didn't properly prepare for what was to come. The city auditor said in the report that the city was unprepared and did not adequately anticipate or plan accordingly.

In addition, the report said many past recommendations that could have improved the city’s response, were not implemented. The auditor noted there were not enough resources to response, including adequate staffing and supplies.

"It was shocking and quite literally devastating," said Mackenzie Kelly, Audit and Finance Committee Member, and Austin City Council member.

Kelly is one of the many city council members who were distributing water to thousands that week. "I was making updates from my car because my car phone charger worked. That was the only way I had power," said Kelly.

Thousands were without power and water for days....could this have been prevented? The city auditor thinks so.

"Very shortly after the winter storm, I brought forward a resolution that the council approved to do really three different things related to the winter storm," said Kathie Tovo, Audit and Finance Committee member and Austin City Council member.

Tovo's resolution set up a series of council work sessions, created a community task force, and asked for a city audit. The Audit and Finance committee will hear the auditor's report Wednesday.

"I saw some things happen during that winter storm in terms of the level of communication both with the city council and with members of the community that I had not experienced before. I think it's important to see what went well and what didn't go as smoothly as it could have," said Tovo.

Councilmember Kelly has a background in training for emergency preparedness. She hopes the city can learn from this, as it may not be a matter of if, but when will the next natural disaster occur.

"I know the only way we are going to be able to do things better is if we plan for and practice things so when there are incidents such as these we are able to know what to do like the back of our hand," said Kelly.

The City of Austin released this statement for FOX 7 Austin:

"We have received the Auditor’s report, which supports the findings of our own After-Action reports published last week. As we said just a few days ago, the City of Austin, like the state of Texas, was unprepared for a historic natural disaster layered on top of an international public health crisis. But we came together as a community to help each other. With every unprecedented event like this, there are lessons to be learned about our preparation, planning, and response. We intend to learn those lessons and make improvements, and many of those improvements are already underway."

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