A city official said Pflugerville is working hard to be prepared for severe winter conditions by developing new plans following last year's historic freeze.
The updates were a direct response to the deadly, week-long Texas freeze in February that left much of the state without power or water. In Pflugerville, the city’s water system lost power, leaving customers without water for about two days. The Pflugerville school district briefly reverted to virtual learning, even though some teachers are without power.
City staff worked to address many of the challenges faced during the winter storm to be better prepared for future cases of extreme winter weather, said Assistant City Manager Amy Giannini.
A few of the challenges addressed include communications, utilities and IT failures, facilities, vehicle and Police Department operations. Additionally, the city manager’s office has participated in the annual National Incident Management System scenario training.
During the winter storm, city communications were difficult to establish due to its server crashing, causing difficulties in coordinating with utility providers and providing emergency communications to residents. Many city facilities also lost power, causing inaccessibility to restrooms and water and preventing the production of water at the water treatment plant. A lack of drinkable water affected operations in the wastewater system. While city vehicles were available, getting fuel proved difficult due to road conditions.
To address communication and IT failures, city staff has started creating a emergency plan, expected to be completed in the next two months, that will compile essential documentation for easy access during a crisis situation. Additionally, city staff is looking into enhanced methods of communication, such as geofencing platforms for message/e-mail targeting and preparing resources for residents to access now and during emergency situations via the city's website.
City staff also has updated Pflugerville's public works emergency action plan to provide details for obtaining portable restrooms from vendors during emergency events in case of water outages. Facility generators continue to be tested weekly for maintenance. Following its approval in the fiscal year 2022 budget, city staff also has begun evaluating automation systems to purchase for city buildings to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning, officials said.
Under the city’s public works emergency action plan, refueling city vehicles prior to an emergency situation will be standard practice. Snow plows and tailgate sanders also have been purchased and delivered. City staff are evaluating the installation of fuel tanks for city vehicles to use and are set to begin site planning this year.
In addressing utility failures during the winter storm, city staff have pushed forward with the installation of generators for its water treatment plant and lake pump station. In addition, the construction of a 2 million gallon water tank at the water treatment plant is anticipated to begin early this year.
(City staff) have been hard at work over the last several months,” Giannini said, “(to) be as prepared as we can for this winter weather season. We have more work to do and we are committed to making sure we get there.”
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Official: Pflugerville will be better prepared for next winter storm