Updated Feb. 3 at 7:27 p.m.

Government and public safety leaders are urging caution and patience, as power restoration and cleanup work from this week’s winter storm continues several days after freezing conditions hit Austin.

Mayor Kirk Watson and Travis County Judge Andy Brown announced the signing of local disaster declarations to secure additional state and federal resources the afternoon of Feb. 3. Soon after, Austin officials gathered at City Hall to provide another update on public safety and the progress made on bringing power back to the more than 100,000 Austin Energy customers still in the dark as of Friday evening.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us as we continue to recover and assist residents affected by the storm, and that work also includes assessing our response to this week’s storm and identifying ways in which we can do things better in the future,” City Manager Spencer Cronk said.

City Council members will gather for regular meetings next week that are expected to include briefings from Austin Energy and other city departments about ongoing response efforts. And in light of what she labeled as communications shortfalls during the freeze, District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly announced she will also call for a full audit of the civic electric utility next week.

"As elected representatives, it is our duty to take charge when challenging times in our community happen. During the February 2023 freeze, our community needed answers and didn't receive them. This is why it's important that we make an effort as a step forward to answer the call of so many Austinites,” Kelly said in a statement.

City leaders last called for an in-depth audit of a city utility—Austin Water—last year after a citywide boil-water notice was issued due to employee error. That audit cost the city around $813,000 and was completed last month.

Power restoration

Austin Energy leadership said there is still no estimate for complete power restoration in the utility’s service area, but that headway was made Feb. 3 and work will continue around the clock over the coming days.

AE General Manager Jackie Sargent said conditions such as weakened trees and complex outages are contributing to ongoing blackouts. She also said residents should plan to bring their own electricians to their homes in some cases where power fixes are not the utility's responsibility.Elton Richards, AE’s vice president of field operations, said downed lines and other equipment failures are still being logged around town and are often located in places that are difficult to access or not easily visible. Richards said he was hesitant to provide further citywide restoration estimates until more areas are canvassed.

“That’s why, until my crews see everything that’s out there, it’s hard for me to tell you when it’s going to be done. I would rather wait and give you something that you can believe than to just throw something out,” he said.

AE previously projected all storm-related outages would end by 6 p.m. Feb. 3. As of 7 p.m., more than 106,000 customers remained without power.

On Feb. 3 more than 13,000 customers had their power restored and 25 power circuits were repaired, Richards and Sargent said. They also credited the line crews working long hours to fix power issues in the city. And in addition to the 150 mutual aid employees already in Austin assisting with restoration work, 50 more are expected to arrive tomorrow, they said.

“Maybe now it’s three steps forward and two steps back. Before it was two steps forward and three or four steps back. So things are improving, and as we continue to see that, as we continue to see the breaks in the weather, the improvement in the daytime temperatures, that is going to help us and help our restoration efforts," Sargent said.

AE leaders also said they believe the utility was properly prepared for the icy event this week. Both pointed to extensive advance planning by AE and the readying of service crews the night of Jan. 31, when Richards said no outages were initially reported.

“We didn’t get blindsided. We do prepare for you guys. And we did the best that we could on this one and we got the crews here as fast as we could,” he said.

However, Sargent said the utility had underestimated the amount of ice that would accumulate through the storm, weighing down power lines and vegetation across Austin and leading to many of the reported outages.

Resident safety

As of Friday evening, Austin-Travis County EMS was not able to provide an estimate for the total number of local injuries, hospitalizations and deaths related to the storm this week. EMS Chief Rob Luckritz said one traffic fatality was reported the first night of the storm.

Luckritz also warned residents against using generators or grills in their homes as the number of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning incidents continues to climb. He said EMS responses to carbon monoxide calls had doubled through Feb. 3 and more residents have been transported to San Antnio medical centers for treatment.

“I cannot emphasize enough: carbon monoxide is a killer. You may not know that you’ve been exposed until it is too late,” he said. “If your power is out, do not use generators or grills in enclosed spaces even if you have a window open or if it’s in the garage and the door is open.”

He and others also asked drivers to remain cautious on city roadways even after ice has melted and power returns. Luckritz said a “majority” of reported crashes Feb. 3—which total well above the typical Friday—are coming from uncontrolled traffic signals, which drivers should treat as four-way stops. AE leaders said they will continue to prioritize power restoration for residents over traffic signals.

Updated Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m.

At 3 p.m. Feb. 3, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Mayor Kirk Watson held a press conference to confirm they are going to file emergency disaster declarations Feb. 3.

The declarations will allow Austin and Travis County to potentially access funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and additional state resources.

If Austin and Travis County reach $5.7 million in eligible cleanup costs, FEMA could reimburse up to 75%, Brown said. He said he thinks that number includes neighboring cities and counties.

Brown and Watson said the money could be used for food, city and county cleanup and potentially with some expenses for families.

As the funds become available, more information will be provided to the public about how to access them, City Manager Spencer Cronk said.

Posted Feb. 3 at noon

At a press conference Feb. 3, city of Austin and Travis County leaders began outlining plans for cleanup from the winter storm, as Austin Energy continues work to restore energy to customers without power.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we're turning the point, we have turned a point, overnight,” Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent said.

As of 11:30 a.m. Feb. 3, 119,845 customers, or about 23% of customers, were without power, according to the Austin Energy tracker. That number had held steady around 30% throughout Feb. 2, as new customers lost power, and Austin Energy crews restored some outages. As of Feb. 3, temperatures are expected to climb into the upper 40s and remain above freezing, according to the National Weather Service.

Residents can go to area libraries and other public buildings to warm up. Overnight shelters will remain open, according to officials. Residents can report to the One Texas Center between 6-8 p.m. if they need shelter or call 311 if they need transportation.

Sargent said Austin Energy is unable to provide an estimate for restoration.

Emergency declaration

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he would be surveying damage Feb. 3 and expects to make a decision on ordering an emergency declaration by the afternoon.

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said those declarations typically require a financial cost to be assessed, which could affect when one is declared.


Watson apologized for poor communication from the city. Residents have raised concerns that a press conference was not held until the day after outages began, and that information from Austin Energy was slow to be shared.

“I want to start by saying that, as mayor, I accept responsibility on behalf of the city,” Watson said. “I apologize, and we've let people down. ... Providing clear and accurate and timely communication with the public is essential in an emergency like this. Once again, the city hasn't delivered. It's been a persistent challenge over the past several years; public frustration is absolutely warranted. Over and over again, we see the same failure. So something will change.”

Carbon monoxide

Emergency responders have received 10 calls about carbon monoxide poisoning, involving 32 patients, said West Hopkins, Austin-Travis County EMS assistant chief.

“Most involved folks were running generators in their garages,” Hopkins said.

He said even if the door is open, generators, cars and stoves should not be run in garages for heat.

“If your power is out, do not use generators or grills in enclosed spaces,” Hopkins said.

He said generators need to be 20 feet from houses with the exhaust pointed away. He said not to use stoves or ovens to heat houses.

Roads and traffic lights

Hundreds of traffic lights remain out throughout the city due to power outages, and many roads have downed branches.

“I mean, there are trees everywhere. And so we are all hands on deck. We call them for reinforcements, and we want the community to also help out with that by calling 311 where they do see downed trees,” City Manger Spencer Cronk said.

Intersections with lights that are out should be treated as a four-way stop, and crews are working on restoring lights, officials said.

Debris clean up

Austin Resource Recovery Director Ken Snipes said there is no timeline yet for when crews will be back on a normal schedule for pickup or when debris will be picked up. He also said there is no timeline yet for how long crews will offer curbside pickup for brush and vegetation, but that information will be considered once the city is out of its emergency situation.

For the time being, he said residents should put their trees and limbs on the curb for pickup, and call 311 to report areas where a large amount of pickup is needed.


Austin Water continues to experience no major issues, Director Shay Roalson said.

Residents in Travis County Water District 10 remain under a boil-water notice. Brown said the county would begin distributing water to those residents.

Fewer than 50 customers throughout the rest of the county have been personally notified about water issues relating to their homes, Roalson said.