Martinez questions who was in charge during deadly flood; calls for new review

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council Member and Mayoral candidate Mike Martinez is calling for an independent review of the city’s final report into the October 31 floods.

In a May 1 email sent to Public Safety Commissioners Michael Lauderdale and Vice Chair Mike Levy, Martinez asks commissioners to recommend any new, outside review of the deadly event “be shared with Council and the community at large.”

In a second email obtained by KXAN, dated April 14, 2014, Martinez wrote, “My general impression is that the failures and opportunities are large, and the successes are relatively small.”

He goes on to give his opinion on how the so-called After Action Report that was posted to a hard-to-find city site dedicated to reports lacks specifics. He cited a grim example. ‘there were issues with carcass removal.’

Then Martinez lays out more of his issues and questions:

  • It is unclear who exactly was in charge of the emergency response
  • Do we have an emergency flood plan?
  • Why was it Nov 4 before a disaster declaration was made?

Martinez’ email was prompted by one from Levy also April 14 who called the city’s report “confusing” and wrote the flood event itself “it was a day of chaos because of a lack of appropriate overall event command and leadership that should have come from the office of the city manager Marc Ott.

Levy goes on to write how no significant attention was given to the role of emergency personnel who saved many lives during the night, October 30-31. Nor, Levy wrote is there any mention of a Fire Department recommendation for more rescue boats – a cry for resources from AFD union bosses KXAN first reported last January.

In April, KXAN reported gaps in the city’s final flood report – including an apparent gaffe by an AFD shift leader who briefly sent call center staff home before the heaviest of the rains. KXAN also noticed absent in the report, any mention of police 911 call center communication data such as the total number of callers put on hold and how long some waited.

Also last month, Police Chief Art Acevedo told KXAN’s Robert Maxwell he has ordered his own review of the 911 call center due out this spring.

Public Safety Commissioners next meet Monday May 5 at Austin City Hall.

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