Flood recovery efforts continue, Travis County commissioners get update

Severe flooding struck the Austin area the weekend of Oct. 30, and Travis County staffers have been among the entities working to help provide relief and resources to flood victims. Members of the Travis County Commissioners Court and Judge Sarah Eckhardt received an update Nov. 3 on the county's ongoing relief efforts as well as plans for recovery.

“We have a lot of additional work to do,” Eckhardt said.

Stacy Moore-Guajardo, emergency management coordinator, said the Oct. 30 morning rain came earlier than anticipated. Evacuation centers were activated, and evacuation began that morning in the area along the Onion Creek waterway in Southeast Austin, she said. About 45 of the homes that flooded were not in the floodplain, according to staff. One resident at the meeting said a relative's house in the Dove Springs area flooded with about 8 feet of water. Various road closures and rescue efforts also took place throughout flooded areas.

That afternoon the judge declared Travis County as a disaster area, and staff is awaiting a response from the federal government and the state about that declaration, which could result in funding for recovery efforts.

Commissioner Margaret Gomez thanked first responders and Travis County staff, who worked together to help provide relief to families affected by the storm—some of whom also saw damage as a result of the 2013 Halloween floods.

“The professionalism with which everyone reacted and responded is greatly appreciated by the families who were greatly involved in this flooding event—again,” Gomez said.

Since the 2013 flood, the county has purchased 32 homes as part of its buyout program, and there are another 23 potential buyouts still in progress, according to the county.

There is no additional funding allocated for buyouts as part of current budget plans, Eckhardt said, adding that is something she hopes the county will soon address. A staff debriefing will take place later this week, she said.

Commissioner Brigid Shea said she would like to see improvements to the way the county handles emergencies.

“We’ve got to be more nimble ... to get people out of harm’s way,” she said.

Residents can seek shelter at the Dittmar Recreation Center at 1009 W. Dittmar Road in Southwest Austin, which has capacity for about 300 people, Eckhardt said. Residents can also go to the Dove Springs Recreation Center at 5801 Ainez Drive to register for flood relief and learn about available resources. Residents can call 3-1-1, contact the Austin Disaster Relief Network at 512-806-0800, or contact the Red Cross at 1-800-928-4271. More information is available at www.traviscountytx.gov.