Homes throughout San Marcos and Hays County are being repaired after the Memorial Day weekend floods, but many residents say they are unable to find intermediate housing until repairs are complete. Brett Thorne
The effort to rebuild and recover from the Memorial Day weekend floods is on track, said Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator, but the city is dealing with a shortage of intermediate housing for those who have been displaced by floods.
On June 17 the city hosted a town hall meeting where residents were able to ask questions and connect with relief agencies.
“Yes, we have an intermediate housing problem in the city and the county of Hays,” Bell said at the town hall meeting. “Absolutely. How big is it? That’s part of what assessments are. We don’t get to make the decision of what the assessments are … We’re trying to development [an intermediate housing plan] right now.”Read more
At city council’s meeting June 16, city officials voted to extend the local disaster declaration through September to get assistance from the state for housing.
Representatives from the city of San Marcos and Hays County plan to meet with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on June 18 to determine how to ensure those who need short-term housing can get it.
One attendee said he heard his flood insurance policy premiums would increase by thousands of dollars because of the floods.
“That is a myth,” said Larry Fordham, insurance specialist with the National Flood Insurance Program. “That is not a fact. It’s totally different than a homeowner’s policy. It’s different than an auto policy or a fire policy. People think, ‘I had an auto accident, my insurance rates are going up.’ There’s a good chance they will. On a flood insurance policy it does not work that way.”
Fordham said occasionally rates will increase nationwide, but those are across-the-board increases and are not based on any single flooding event.
Barbara Hurtado, whose parents live on Conway Drive in the hard-hit Blanco Gardens neighborhood, was told her parents would be required to purchase a flood insurance policy if they accepted assistance from FEMA. Nathan Fey, a representative from FEMA who attended the town hall said that may be true, but it depends on the location of one’s home.
“There are instances where if you accept federal assistance and you are in a flood zone, yes, they require you within 30 days to keep and maintain flood insurance,” Fey said. “What that protects is if nine months from now we have another flood and you’re flooded out … it should be on the insurance’s side the next time to help you.”
Fey said people should get in touch with the NFIP to get more information about whether they are required to buy insurance.
In addition to assistance from FEMA, the Small Business Administration can provide assistance for business owners or non-business owners. Loans up to $200,000 are available to help people repair their primary residence. Renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 and businesses are eligible for loans up to $2 million.
“Yes, we have an intermediate housing problem in the city and the county of Hays.”
-Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator
SBA Regional Administrator Yolanda Stokes said people should apply for as many loans as they can, even if they are not sure if they will use them all. Residents can cancel loans after being approved if they determine they do not need the assistance. Additionally, residents should not try to determine their own eligibility or ineligibility for loans.
FEMA and the SBA will open a long-term information center in San Marcos at 501 S. LBJ Drive, on June 20. Residents who have questions about assistance available to them are invited to visit the information center.
Those who need assistance clearing debris or have other volunteer-related questions can call 512-753-2320 or visit www.sanmarcostx.gov/smtxflood.