AUSTIN (KXAN)– Michael Muehlemann and his partner hold hands as they pray over their lunch.

They picked up their free meal at the Austin Convention Center, serving as the city’s Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) on Friday.

“We got the full brunt of the coldness,” Muehlemann said.

They spent most of last week’s ice storm on the streets, after missing the sign-up for shelters.

“You shouldn’t have to register. If you’re cold and… you have nowhere to go, you should be able to just walk in there,” he said.

Muehlemann said they’ve could’ve really used this center last week, which included help from different nonprofits and city departments, along with free meals and snacks.

“It’s too late. The ice storm’s come and gone,” he said. “This is not preparedness at all.”

In the wake of the 2021 winter storm, an audit suggested Austin-Travis County officials set up resource hubs in communities across the city and county.

Then, in September of last year, the city announced it would launch a network of “resilience hubs” designed to help neighbors during emergencies like winter storms and other weather events.

Laura Patiño, Austin’s chief resilience officer, told KXAN at the time six pilot hubs would be launched in city- and county-owned buildings in east Austin by the end of 2022.

The city said each hub may offer something different, like shelter, food and water, information and cellphone charging areas.

So, where were these resilience hubs during last week’s ice storm?

“In practice, specifically during a significant event such as Winter Storm Mara, public-facing City facilities can serve as some level of resilience function,” Jason Alexander, City of Austin Chief of Staff, wrote to KXAN.

He said during the storm, for example, they used some of the pilot hub locations as cold weather shelters and warming centers.

And even though the first MARC wasn’t launched until Wednesday– eight days after the first ice-over, Alexander said it’s “one version” of resilience hub *work* in action, while they work on a long-term model.

“Collectively, these sites fulfilled many of our resilience needs. The intent behind the City’s resilience model is to have resources capable of adapting to evolving situations, and these sites did exactly that. It is a process of continuous improvement, and while the City’s long-term resilience hub model remains in development, Winter Storm Mara provided the opportunity to implement many of our resilience principles,” Alexander said.

“We need to respond better,” said Zohaib ‘Zo’ Qadri, district 9 city council member.

The newly-elected official help set up Friday’s MARC and agreed with the frustration of people like Muehlemann.

He said his office teamed up with some other city council members to set up a resource center for their constituents on Sunday before the city deployed their MARCs.

They offered neighbors hot food, coffee, and a place to warm up and charge up.

Qadri said he’s grateful for all the groups that have come together for this week’s MARCs, but he understands the frustrations of neighbors like Muehlemann.

“I think folks were confused, they were angry, they were frustrated, and all rightfully so,” he said. “We need to make sure we have that event as soon as we can. And not you know, a week later.”

Still reeling from last week, Muehlmann and his pregnant partner aren’t sure how they’ll handle another cold night ahead.

Friday’s multi-agency resource center runs until 7 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center.

Another one is planned to open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Austin Community College’s Riverside campus on Grove Boulevard.