Our climate is changing, and we're already experiencing the impacts.
For decades, humans have relied on fossil fuels to power our lives. When we burn fossil fuels to heat and cool our homes, fuel our cars, and power up our electronics, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, causing the earth to warm. This warming leads to more extreme weather events, including more frequent and stronger floods, wildfires, heatwaves, winter storms, and more. Recent examples in Austin include 2020's Winter Storm Uri, the Halloween Floods of 2013 and 2015, and a historic heatwave that contributed to the Labor Day wildfires in 2011.
Everyone is affected by extreme weather, but the most impacted people are those with the fewest resources to survive and bounce back from a disaster event. This includes low-income communities, those experiencing homelessness, and communities of color who experience systemic racism. People in these communities have historically been most impacted by extreme weather and will continue to bear the brunt of impacts as climate change brings more extreme events.
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must drastically reduce emissions locally and worldwide. We must also prepare for the changes that are already here through climate preparedness. Examples of climate preparedness include upgrading roads and bridges to account for more flooding or planting trees that are native to warmer, drier areas. Climate preparedness also includes having the necessary policies, infrastructure, relationships, and behaviors in place to prepare for and recover from climate impacts. Preparing for climate change also means taking personal action at home and in your community.
Building community preparedness
What you can do to prepare
Taking steps to prepare in advance can greatly impact your safety and recovery in an emergency. A good rule is to have enough resources and supplies for your family to be self-sufficient for seven days. Before a disaster happens, here's what you can do:
- Make a plan
- Build a kit
- Know your neighbors
- Stay informed
How the City is preparing
Currently, the City is working with the Austin Independent School District, Travis County, and other partners to build a Resilience Hub Network. Through this network, community members could access resources before, during, and after extreme weather events and other disasters. The first six pilot Resilience Hubs will be located in East Austin at familiar community locations where people already gather, such as libraries, schools, health centers, and recreation centers. Learn more about building a Resilience Hub Network in Austin.
We are also taking steps to update our existing assets and operations and design future infrastructure to withstand and bounce back from the effects of extreme weather. Here's some of what the City has done:
Assessed our City's assets and operations (PDF; 3.3 MB)
Planned for hazard mitigation when extreme events hit (PDF; 15.7 MB)
Available City programs & resources
The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management offers a suite of preparedness materials, including printable checklists, resources, and guides.
Learn more about Austin's floodplains and the risk of flooding where you live.
Austin Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program offers free home energy improvements to qualifying customers with low to moderate incomes.
Small businesses in Austin can use this resource to get prepared for, or recover from, economic and natural disasters.
This grant strengthens Austin's urban forest by funding stewardship activities like tree planting, tree care, education, and disease control projects.