Austin’s need for comprehensive weather plan to be reviewed


AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austinites prepared for a strong storm system to bring rain and possibly hail Wednesday night, some city leaders said they need to do more to plan for flooding and other extreme weather.

Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool who represents District 7 proposed a resolution that called for creating a comprehensive resilience plan.

“We’re having really a historic number of abrupt and really severe weather events in our city,” she said.

Since 2011, Central Texas has experienced several extreme weather events.

  • In 2011, wildfires destroyed homes in southwest Austin and Bastrop County.
  • In 2013, a historic flash flood killed four people.
  • In 2015, another deadly flooding swept through Texas.
  • In 2018, flooding led to Austin’s first citywide boil water notice.

Talking about last October’s flooding, Pool said: “We weren’t ready for it, and so that is one of the focuses of this.”

Pool’s resolution directs the city manager to look for ways to develop a comprehensive resilience plan that can be used in the aftermath of extreme weather events.

“Our water systems are well protected. It’s the flooding that had overwhelmed them last October,” Pool explained. “We just weren’t prepared for that. So what recommendations would an expert have to give us some ideas about how we could be better prepared?”

The District 7 representative said she would like the plan to address what the city should do if the water system is offline for more than a week, how they should respond if cell phone towers are destroyed and if community centers can be equipped to generators and function as designated shelters. 

She also added the city doesn’t necessarily have to use its own money to explore different options — Austin could consider applying for grants.

Pool gave an example of 100 Resilient Cities, which is an initiative launched and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. She said they could look to see what kind of solutions 100RC developed for other cities.

The 100RC program helps different places come up with strategies to alleviate problems caused by climate change, growth and economic challenges. 

Paris is one of more than 80 cities that received help.

It applied to the program highlighting its vulnerabilties to extreme heat and flooding. After months of developing a resilience strategy, they came up with a solution that turned school yards covered in asphalt into green spaces everyone could use. Getting rid of the asphalt also helped control flooding because it can soak up the rain.

Pool said she wants the City Council to discuss the resolution at its May 9 meeting. 

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