How Central Texas Homeowners are Handling the Aftermath of Weekend Flooding

Yet again, many Texans from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast are left picking up the pieces after a deadly storm.

By Veronica Zaragovia & Mose BucheleNovember 2, 2015 10:24 am,

Early Friday morning, a storm began as torrential rains – up to 13 inches in some places – flooded rivers, roads, and homes as far south as Brownsville and as far north as Texarkana.

According to meteorologists, nearly a half dozen tornadoes touched down in the Lone Star state as a result of the upper-level storm. Officials in places like La Porte reported seeing trees being uprooted.

At last, authorities had confirmed six weather related deaths: two near the Houston area and four people in Central Texas .

After a weekend like this, many are left wondering what’s next and where can they look for help.

In Austin’s Onion Creek neighborhood south of town, washed out by a similar storm in 2013, residents are frustrated that they have to go through this all over again.

Jose Vara says he feels angry as he stands outside his home wearing tall black rubber boots, surveying what 6 inches of water has done to his home, with no help from police or city officials.

“We’re thinking on look for a lawyer and go a different way this time,” he said. “We’re not gonna let the city do us like they did the last time.”

Emma Weijers last heard from the city in an email around June about being approved for a buyout of her home from the 2013 floods. Like Vara, she says feels frustrated that no one’s walking around the neighborhood on this day.

“Where is the city again? Last time it took them five days to come out,” Weijers said. “I’ll see how long it takes for them to come out. It’s not a matter of urgency to them, they don’t get any votes here. We’re all low-income families here, they don’t give a crap. That’s just what it comes down to.”

Maria Medel’s house is in pretty bad shape on Onion Creek Drive and Onion Crossing. All the furniture is ruined. Some doors had come off. Her flood insurance expired a month ago and she didn’t renew because the city had already appraised her house as part of the buyout.

“Well, we were just waiting on that but it seems like they’re taking forever,” Medel said. “So I have no idea what’s going to happen now.”

She’s worried the city will now appraise her house for less.

Jerry Reynolds with the Austin Code Department, says he understands their frustration.”Their whole life have changed just in a matter of hours,” Reynolds said. “So we try to understand them and work with them. I feel for them.”

Despite complaints of not having any city help, Reynolds says crews are going through the affected area and assessing the damage and fixing it, too, they’re just not going door to door. Homeowners who have a house too dangerous to live in will likely get a notice on Monday.

In Bastrop County, hundreds are displaced after flooding that began in Travis and Hays counties on Friday. The emergency is a reminder that floods don’t stop just because the rain does.

Onlookers gathered at the Colorado River Bridge in Bastrop all afternoon on Saturday.

Donna Allon was there with her husband Robert.

“I don’t think you can really imagine just how high this water is or how devastating this could really be until you’re right there standing on it,” Donna Allon said. “It’s hard to imagine, but boy, you can really feel the force of it when you’re just even trying to get into town, and I feel so bad for the people when they were saying ‘Evacuate now!'”

The waters that caused so much havoc upstream Friday took some time getting to the bridge. Officials say the river crested in Bastrop around noon Saturday. By the time it was over, they’d rescued about a hundred people from the floods. Around 250 homes were evacuated.  Some of those people ended up at the First United Methodist Church in Bastrop, where David Childress and his 2-year-old son Colt were talking about the cow that wound up in their house after they’d evacuated on Friday

“We went in the house, and I had a pig in my house, I had a cow in my house. And it was water was all the way up to the top of my stove,” Childress said. “They just swimmed in I guess, trying to get to higher ground. It was like four or five feet, and I guess when the flood took the doors out and stuff they just went in.”

He lives near the county line by Highway 71.  He thinks that as the river rose, that backed up already swollen creeks, and flooded the area around his home.

Heather Shipp, Childress’ neighbor and niece, says everyone’s wondering where the water’s coming from. She was also flooded out and, like a lot of people, she brought up the fact that this flood came just weeks after a major wildfire hit the area — not to mention the flood that happened earlier this year.

“I made a joke about it earlier, but I know it’s not God. But it’s like, what did we do wrong?” Shipp said. “What did we do wrong? It’s like everything’s happening from one end to the other, and it sucks because I’m like seven months pregnant, and all my baby stuff got taken away.”

Shipp says in the days to come she and people like her will need help cleaning debris and rebuilding lives that were turned upside down in a matter of hours.