After winter storm, Austin puts together a plan for better temporary shelters

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The winter storm that hit Texas in February left millions—including hundreds of thousands of Austin Energy customers—without power for days amid sub-freezing temperatures.

While the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate are moving forward with legislation that would reform the way the state's power grid is managed, Austin City Council is focusing on creating better community spaces to help local residents recover from a disaster.

On April 8, City Council passed a resolution introduced by District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo that directs City Manager Spencer Cronk to look into what the city is calling "resilience hubs"—a phrase that comes from a 2020 Pew Charitable Trust report analyzing similar venues in Baltimore and Minneapolis.

These hubs are neighborhood centers that could provide safe places for temporary shelter during extreme heat or disasters, and during non-emergencies, they could provide space for programming and community-building. According to the resolution, potential locations could be schools, recreation centers, libraries or other "trusted, well-known, community-managed facilities."

The resolution said the facilities should be equipped with "redundant power and water" so that they would be disconnected from traditional infrastructure and be able to sustain operations even if the city were to experience widespread power or water outages.


Cronk has been directed to return to City Council in June with a budget and recommendations on how to equip the locations for disasters.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


MOST RECENT

Residential appraisal valuations have been sent to Travis County property owners. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis Central Appraisal Districts says hot housing market is reflected in 2021 appraisals

Property owners have until May 17 to file a protest of their home's appraisal.

Photo of the exterior of La Barbecue
La Barbecue opens new space, plus six more new Austin restaurants

Downtown Italian and Greek eateries are among those joining the Austin restaurant scene this spring.

The Austin City Council is set to meet May 6 to go over a 70-item agenda. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Votes on revamped APD cadet academy, possible shift in homeless strategy on tap May 6

Council may look to the possibility of establishing designated campgrounds for the Austin's homeless this spring, with a citywide public camping ban set to go into effect May 11.

Austin City Council will vote on whether to reboot the police department's training academy May 6. (Courtesy Austin Police Department)
Benchmarks for 'reimagined' APD cadet academy on track ahead of City Council commencement vote

Training of the Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class could get underway next month following an overhaul of the academy's instructional process and curriculum.

Ryan Companies will be building 350 homes near the Mueller control tower. (Rendering courtesy Lake Flato Architects)
Coming soon to Austin: Vaquero Taquero adding a downtown location, Komé opening at the airport, Mueller to add 350 homes and more

A new ice cream shop is also opening in East Austin and an apartment project is being built near House Park.

Photo of a gloved hand holding a vaccine vial with the words "vaccine news" superimposed
Austin-area health officials prep for vaccines to open to kids 12 and up

Austin-Travis County interim Health Authority Mark Escott said he expects the FDA to authorize Pfizer's vaccine for kids 12 and up within a week.

New penalties for camping and several other activities will be enforced after the May 1 election is certified and Proposition B's homeless ordinances are in effect. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
With Proposition B's passage, Austin City Council looks to solidify homelessness summit goals, may consider designated campgrounds

The city may look to the concept of temporary designated campsites to house individuals experiencing homelessness after a new camping ban enacted through Proposition B goes into effect.

Photo of hands in purple gloves prepared a vaccine vial
As Travis County receives fewer vaccines this week, state asks for 'one more big push' in distribution

The Texas Department of State Health Services is shifting its distribution model for vaccines moving forward.

Waterloo Park will open in August 2021. (Courtesy Waterloo Greenway Conservancy)
Waterloo Park announces August opening date, series of community programs

Live Nation and C3 Presents will announce a series of concerts at the park's 5,000-seat Moody Amphitheater in the coming weeks.

Voters line up at the Carver branch of the Austin Public Library on May 1. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin May 1 election: See the results from all eight propositions

Nearly 60% of city voters supported Proposition B, which will reinstate criminal penalties for camping, solicitation and sitting or lying down in certain public areas.