Here’s what Travis County is working on right now to avoid another winter storm disaster

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County Commissioners directed county staff Tuesday to take steps to prepare for a potential emergency after an “after-action” report published earlier this month highlighted more than 100 areas where Austin-Travis County could have improved its response to the winter storm that hit Texas earlier this year.

That report identified key areas of failure including communication, training and equipment. Some of those highlighted areas of improvement are long-term, others are being addressed now.

Travis County staff has been asked to bring a plan, or an update on progress towards a plan, to commissioners on the following items by Dec. 9, among others:

  • Develop a plan to buy and store emergency water, food and portable generators
  • Make county vehicles better equipped for winter storms by buying chains and identifying which vehicles should use them and where they should be stored
  • Identify shelters and warming stations
  • Plan de-icing and anti-icing solutions such as snowplow attachments, sand and vehicles to put materials down on roadways
  • Identify ways to work with community groups and to help the public be more prepared
  • Find mental and behavioral health providers and language services for a future emergency responses

You can read all of the items in the resolution originally put before commissioners here. Some changes were made in court Tuesday, which have not been posted yet.

“I think our approach will be short term, medium term, long term,” said Charles Brotherton, Travis County Executive of Emergency Services. Brotherton said some of the immediate projects can be done before this winter, like buying emergency supplies, but that other projects would take more time.

The resolution specifically calls for county staff to identify ways to make access to resources during an emergency equitable.

It also directs staff to do an overall review of Travis County’s response to the winter storm using resources like the Austin-Travis County after-action report and talking with invested groups.

Commissioners noted Tuesday that while there are changes to be made to the county’s response to emergency situations like the winter storm, they also need to rely on the public to be better prepared. Part of the county’s focus will be on educating the public.

“We will be facing more and more extremes of weather that are unlike what we’ve seen before,” said Commissioner Brigid Shea.

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