County gears up for severe winter weather, just in case – Austin Monitor

Though extreme winter weather appears to be unlikely in the Texas forecast, Travis County is covering all its bases. The plans are, in part, a response to the snowstorm crisis Central Texas faced in early 2021, in which a lack of adequate preparation led to an estimated 246 deaths in the state.
Representatives from the Office of Emergency Management, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, the county communications office, and emergency service districts briefed the Commissioners Court on Dec. 6.
The likelihood of a catastrophic snowstorm is currently low, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The oceanic weather pattern, La Niña, will return this winter, probably leading to higher-than-average winter temperatures and less-than-average precipitation in Texas.
“But, as we know, average does not mean none,” Eric Carter, the chief emergency management coordinator for Travis County, said. “Therefore, we must all be prepared for winter weather. And that includes those at home.”
Carter said the county has 100 pallets of water and 16 pallets of heater meals ready to go. (One pallet of water contains anywhere from 1,500 to 2,200 bottles.)
“The emergency supplies we procure this year are are on hand and ready to deploy as needed,” Carter said. “We have been working with Transportation and Natural Resources fleet to purchase the vehicles and logistics support equipment. We hope to have one of the trucks in our hands by January, along with trailers to support the movement of material as needed.”
Carter also mentioned the county is hosting a series of emergency operations orientation classes for county staff and school districts.
Eric Stockton, the chief deputy with county technology and operations, briefed commissioners on his department’s areas of focus.
“There’s three areas of focus: alternate power or standby generators, hardening facilities for winter weather conditions, and preparing staffing and resources to respond to a weather event,” Stockton said.
The county has 13 standby generators held at 12 different locations. All are operational and tested regularly, according to Stockton.
“In terms of facilities hardening, there’s two basic approaches,” Stockton said. “One is ongoing monitoring, looking and inspecting plumbing – everything from installation to backflow, checking heating systems; all of those things can be done ahead of time.”
The other approach is focusing on the issues the county faced during Winter Storm Uri.
“Making sure those locations don’t experience the same types of issues again,” Stockton said.
Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion asked about personnel workflows during emergencies.
“Have we identified essential staff that needs to be involved in each work group, so that we know who’s elected to be here, and ultimately who is not, in an emergency situation?”
Travillion also suggested creating decision trees in the event of an emergency, something the city of Austin recently has done.
Photo from PxHere.
The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.
We’re a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?
Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.
Emails I Want to Receive
 
See which district you live in.

The Austin Monitor is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit and nonpartisan news organization. We are fully-local and cover the important issues and key decisions at the intersection between the local government and the community.
© Copyright 2022 Austin Monitor. All rights reserved.

source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *