'This didn't need to happen': Following Winter Storm Uri, Pflugerville seeks answers from state

Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward. (Screenshot courtesy city of Pflugerville)
Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward. (Screenshot courtesy city of Pflugerville)

Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward. (Screenshot courtesy city of Pflugerville)

Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward.

“This didn’t need to happen," Council Member Rudy Metayer said. "This was completely unnecessary.”

Metayer praised the community efforts of volunteers, area businesses and local nonprofit organizations for their assistance providing hot meals, clean drinking water and shelters for those most severely impacted by the storm.

However, as the ice has thawed and the damage from the storm lingers, Metayer said it is critical for city leadership and residents alike to demand answers and solutions from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Council Member Mike Heath, echoing Metayer's sentiments, said it would be prudent for residents to file formal complaints with the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

While many on council voiced frustrations with ERCOT's oversight during the power outages and blackouts, Council Member David Rogers said a "witch hunt" against ERCOT board members is not the most useful means of moving forward. Highlighting those who have resigned from the board, he said the most meaningful path forward is one focused on solutions—something Pflugerville city leadership can readily participate in, he said.


"It doesn’t serve us well to go around burning witches when we can be looking for solutions," he said.

Exemplary from Winter Storm Uri was the sense of community camaraderie and volunteer efforts, particularly to assist those living in senior living facilities and residents in need of water, Council Member Doug Weiss said. Nearly 90 volunteers and 40 staff members assisted with water distribution efforts following the storm.

“It was an incredible outpouring of support from the community," he said.

Council Member Ceasar Ruiz praised efforts of staff working to repair water lines around the clock, as well as the leadership of city officials navigating the storm in real time. Having received an outpouring of engagement with his council email and Facebook page, he said he has a renewed appreciation for the dedication and service of council.

However, beyond state leaders' role in the blackouts and the outpouring of community initiatives, Mayor Pro Tem Omar Peña said the fact remains that the city's water treatment plant failed. Of approximately 7,000 different water systems statewide, a little over 10% of them failed, including Pflugerville's, he said.

"We're on a list of a failed water system," Peña said. "That is upon us to fix and to fix now."

Peña said it is imperative for council to not only expedite plans for water treatment plant power improvements, but to also execute these solutions so a similar system failure does not happen again.

Mayor Victor Gonzales said the most important takeaway from this event was the willingness of people to pitch in and help out their neighbors, even when experiencing a crisis themselves. Noting Peña's calls for immediate action on Pflugerville's water front, he said there are real problems council will have to address in the wake of the storm.

The goal, he said, is to fix and prevent this from happening again. Moving into the future and toward concrete solutions, Gonzales said the Pflugerville community's efforts will not be forgotten.

"What I saw was a community coming together," he said.


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