Audit finds Austin was unprepared for February’s winter storm

Report says lack of preparedness led to disorganized response

AUSTIN, Texas – A report issued by the Austin City Auditor’s Office found Texas’ capital city was unprepared for the winter storm that swept through the state earlier this year.

The powerful storm, which many call Winter Storm Uri, swept through the Lone Star State in February. It brought wintry weather across much of the state, but it was the bitterly cold air that accompanied the storm that caused power and water outages that lasted for days. More than 200 people in Texas died because of the storm.

"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," Austin City CounciIwoman Kathie Tovo told FOX 7 Austin. "I think it's important to see what went well and what didn't go as smoothly as it could have."

Tovo said she introduced a resolution after the storm that called for an audit of the city’s response.

In the auditor’s report that was released this week, an analysis found officials failed to anticipate the severity of the storm and prepare accordingly. That led to a disorganized response.

The report also found that the city failed to effectively communicate important information before and during the storm. However, the report noted that other major cities in Texas also failed on the communication front.

According to the report, Austin should also do a better job of ensuring there are adequate resources to respond to complex disasters in the future.

Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly said she hopes the report will help Austin be ready for the next crisis.

"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," Kelly told FOX 7 Austin.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the storm cost Texas between $80 and $130 billion in financial losses.