Thousands of Austin residents still without power a week after storm, prompting assessment of city manager’s work

Nearly a week after a deadly winter storm swept across Texas, toppling trees and bringing down power lines, around 20,000 residents of the state capital of Austin were still without power.

Temperatures were nearing the mid-70s on Monday afternoon, but wind and rain forecasts for later in the week could throw another wrench in restoration efforts.

Austin Energy is now saying not all residents will have their power back until Feb. 12, frustrating city leaders who called a meeting Thursday to assess the employment of Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk.

“I added the emergency item to the agenda this morning because the handling of this situation and the lack of clear, timely and accurate communication has left our community in the dark. This is unacceptable. The City Austin can and will do better,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who took office last month, said in a statement Monday.


Cronk, who is essentially the chief executive of city government and manages a staff of around 14,000, told reporters on Monday that he is “laser focused on getting power back to all of our customers and for make sure we get through this weather event successfully.”

“I serve to the pleasure of this new mayor and council, and I will have this conversation with them on Thursday,” Cronk said at a press conference. “I’m here to make sure we respond directly to this weather event. So that was my only focus. I’m so grateful to our incredible city staff who did the same.”

Cronk did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

A large oak tree sits in the yard of a home following a winter storm in Austin, Texas, U.S., Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

More than 150,000 Austin residents were without power at the height of the blackouts last week, while about 439,000 Texans lost power statewide.


Councilman Mackenzie Kelly called for an audit of Austin Energy’s response to the storm to investigate the adequacy of the city’s vegetation management plan, utility operating practices and other issues.

“As elected officials, it is our duty to take charge of the tough times in our community,” Kelly said on Feb. 3. “During the February 2023 freeze, our community needed answers and did not receive them. That is why it is important that we step forward to answer the call of so many Austinians.”

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