'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.


MOST RECENT

REVL Social Club offers bar food and cocktails with games such as Jenga and Connect 4 for guests to use. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's Park n' Pizza in Pflugerville launches social club for adults

Austin's Park n' Pizza in Pflugerville opened its new REVL Social Club April 16, offering bar foods, cocktails and games.

The Pushing for Justice Caravan for Javier Ambler was held in San Gabriel Park on Aug. 15. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Javier Ambler’s Law awaits Texas Senate approval

The bill passed the House on April 15.

Jack Allen's Kitchen will be at 1345 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. (Rendering courtesy Jack Allen's Kitchen)
7 restaurants coming to Cedar Park, Leander; new murals to go up in Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the Central Texas area from the past week.

Round Rock ISD trustees voted to maintain the district's mask policy that requires masks on school property. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mask policy remains in place for Round Rock ISD

A motion that would have lifted part of the district's policy failed.

Outside of Hutto City Council Chambers there is a vacant spot where former Council Member Patti Martinez's framed picture used to hang. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hutto City Council declares Place 5 seat vacant, amends senior tax exemption

Hutto City Council declares former Council Member Patti Martinez's Place 5 seat vacant during its April 15 meeting.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Williamson County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
New coronavirus cases continue to be reported even as vaccinations ramp up in Williamson County

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.

The crawfish boil is $16 a plate and includes a pound and a half of crawfish. (Courtesy Chamber of Commerce)
Hutto's annual crawfish festival, car show happening April 17

The Hutto Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual crawfish festival and car show April 17 featuring 70 vendors.

Austin FC supporters celebrate the official announcement of the team in January 2019. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
How, where to watch historic first Austin FC match April 17

Check out this list of breweries, pubs and restaurants around Central Texas that are hosting watch parties for April 17's inaugural Austin FC game.

Z'Tejas' chorizo dumplings are served on the Arboretum location's porch. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Z'Tejas to open in Avery Ranch; butcher, deli to open in Dripping Springs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Greg Goodman, owner and CEO of KTonic (center) said the company chose Hutto because it is a growing and vibrant community. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
KTonic Kombucha breaks ground in Hutto

Texas-based KTonic Kombucha broke ground in Hutto for its 4,380-square-foot production facility and taproom on April 15.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell predicted the end of mass vaccination sites by Memorial Day. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County judge predicts end of most mass vaccination sites by Memorial Day

As of April 14, its waitlist had dwindled to fewer than 50 for those in phases 1A, 1B and 1C and teachers, officials said.