Year in Review
Winter Storm Uri

In February 2021, Austin experienced a series of winter and ice storms, unofficially referred to as Winter Storm Uri. Winter Storm Uri was an overlapping emergency with overwhelming and cascading statewide impacts to power, water, transportation, communications, and all of our livelihoods.
Before the storm arrived, the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center along with City and County departments had already been operating for 11 months on the COVID-19 response. City of Austin and Travis County departments along with community partners had recently ramped up mass vaccination sites; the COVID-19 Alternate Care Site (ACS) at the Austin Convention Center had supported 215 patients; and COVID-19 Protective Lodges, Isolation Facilities, and testing sites operated across Austin-Travis County region.
On February 10, 2021, Winter Storm Uri arrived in the Austin area as an additional emergency, taxing already strained resources; and the storm’s impacts escalated quickly. Austin received more than six inches of snow, nearly an inch of ice from freezing rain, and consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures. Statewide supply chains buckled and, at times, stopped functioning, further complicating the procurement of food and potable water. There were 381 water line breaks in City pipelines, and more than 200 apartment complexes lost water due to private plumbing damage.A City-wide boil water notice was issued on February 17 and was in effect for six days. 
Approximately two weeks later, warmer temperatures returned to the region. The boil water notice was rescinded in stages for residents, then completely lifted on February 23. Power was restored to 100% of Austin Energy customers by February 21. As Austinites gradually recovered, the City and County continued operating food and water distribution sites while demobilizing warming centers and overnight shelters. Eventually, the Palmer Events Center closed to residents on February 26, 2021. 
After all was said and done, the City and Travis County jointly:
  • Responded to more than 700 traffic accidents 
  • Answered more 911 calls than ever before for five consecutive days 
  • Assisted hospitals, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers and other community lifelines remain open to care for the community 
  • Sheltered more than 1,000 people in dozens of locations 
  • Provided thousands of meals to those sheltered 
  • Established a medical shelter to help those who needed power for medical equipment or other medical treatments 
  • Sustained COVID-19 operations including the Alternate Care Site, multiple Isolation Facilities and Protective Lodges 
  • Placed 60 water tanks for bulk water distribution at apartment complexes 
  • Distributed 52,000 gallons of bulk water using tanker trucks 
  • Installed 65 fire hydrant adapters to provide access to potable water throughout the community 
  • Repaired 381 water line breaks in City system in 10 days 
  • Responded to more than 1,500 emergency water shutoffs for customers 
Nationwide, Winter Storm Uri resulted in more than 170 million Americans being placed under winter weather alerts issued by the National Weather Service and caused more than five million people in the United States to experience blackouts, and nearly 18 million Texans experienced a boil water notice. In the State of Texas, Winter Storm Uri created more than $195 billion in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in Texas history.