After the flood: Balch Springs families dry out, recover belongings and try to find a place to live

The struggle is just beginning for many families in Balch Springs who woke up to find their homes flooded. A state of disaster has been declared in Dallas County after torrential rainfall flooded homes, stranded dozens of motorists on streets and highways that looked more like canals and delayed air traffic at local airports.

By Caroline Love, KERA NewsAugust 25, 2022 10:30 am,

From KERA News:

The water has gone down, but the struggle is just beginning for many families in Balch Springs who woke up to find their homes flooded by torrential rain earlier this week.

Water was knee high at times at the Spring Oaks apartment complex in Balch Springs at the height of flooding on Monday. More than 13 inches of rain was reported in some portions of North Texas.

Water poured into Noemi Flores’s apartment before sun rise. But that didn’t wake her up. It was her neighbors banging on her door.

She got up, and noticed her foot was wet. At first, Flores thought she had tipped over a cup. Then, she realized there was too much water for it to be from a spill.

“I can walk in it, and all I hear is the splashing,” she said. “And I’m like, Okay, no, no, no, no, no. This is not just anything. What is going on?”

Flores lives in a first-floor apartment in Balch Springs. She moved into the Spring Oaks apartment complex four years ago.

Now, Flores and her sixteen-year-old daughter have to move out so the apartment can be repaired. She doesn’t know where they’ll go.

Many families in Balch Springs are unsure of what’s next. Clifton King drove a U-Haul into the neighborhood where flood waters dumped trash on the soggy ground and the unmistakable smell of sewage permeated the air. He was there to help his ex-wife move out of the Spring Oaks apartment with their three young children.

“They’ve cut the electricity out,” King said. “We can’t see nothing in there. It’s dark. So, we got to kind of feel around and pack up what we can and leave the rest.”

Many families were just getting by financially before the flood. The per capita income for Balch Springs is about 19 thousand a year according to the U.S. Census.

Damon Miles has lived at Spring Oaks for three years. He relies on disability payments for his income. He said it’s hard for people in a low-income area to find temporary shelter after a storm.

“How can you afford to move somewhere or go to a hotel to stay for two weeks?” Miles said.

Flores also receives disability payments. She said being on a fixed income means she can’t afford to pay for a hotel room or hire movers to come help her leave.

Flores’ brown laminate floors aren’t murky storm water isn’t covering Flores’ brown laminate floors anymore — vacuums sucked it all up.

But you could still hear them whirring in her apartment, and water had seeped into the walls. The stench of mold is palpable. That’s why Flores can’t stay. The mold is triggering her asthma.

This isn’t the first time Flores had water in her apartment. She said a pipe burst in her apartment during the winter storm. She has renter’s insurance, so she was able to file a claim and get the help she needed back then.

But Flores doesn’t have flood insurance. It’s something she said she never thought about flooding be a problem in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until now. The renter’s insurance company told her that her policy doesn’t cover flood damage, so Flores wouldn’t get her claim approved like she did after the winter storm.

“It’s very frustrating because I’m like, okay, what’s the difference between them?” Flores said. “It’s just water. One was cold and the other one is hot.”

Like a lot of her neighbors, Flores doesn’t know what’s she’ll do while her apartment is repaired. All she knows is she wants to stay positive to set an example for her daughter.

“I keep thinking, okay, God, I know you’re going to show me the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I just got to be patient.”

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