One year later, Halloween flood victims still rebuilding lives

It was a morning that won't soon be forgotten.

The southeast Austin flood claimed the lives of three people and left neighborhoods in the Onion Creek area looking like a war zone.

One year later, things are looking up.

The afternoon sun shines on local pastor Alfredo Briseno and his crew as they continue to help people in an area they don't even live in.

"We're repairing this and we're going to put all of the shingles," he said speaking about rebuilding a carport.

Flood victim Susan Willard can't say 'thank you' enough to everyone who has helped her community.

"This has been a very humbling experience for a lot of us to see how many people just like swarmed down here to help after the flood and a lot of them stayed for a long time," she said.

Briseno says their work is free of charge. The pastor says they do it out of love.

"We don't charge because I mean the Bible told us not to charge. I mean Jesus gave us everything for free! So why should we charge?" Briseno said.

At the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, they're glad they've been able to get many people out of the flood plain through buyouts.

"After the flood, we have been able to secure today $115 million to continue the buyout plus the money that we're expecting from the Federal government," said Managing Engineer, Mapi Vigil.

Through a partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, even more buyout money is on the way.

Susan Willard says she supports those who do want to leave the area but she and several others don't want to be bought out because she loves it there. She says others living in dangerous spots around the world most likely feel the same.

"Some of them are saying you know 'We know the risks, you get out of harm's way when you have to and then you clean up and rebuild' just like they did in Bastrop, just like they did in Galveston. Just like we're doing down here," Willard said.

Mona Gonzalez is the founding Executive Director for the River City Youth Foundation nearby and also one of the founders of the Travis Austin Relief Group -- an organization that's provided long-term help after the flood.

She says this weekend, the public is invited to remember those who died and thank those who helped.

"This is the time to come and to know that this community truly does care about them, loves them, is ready to stand with them. Not for a day or two or for a month or two...but for the long haul," Gonzalez said.

The "One Year Later" commemoration ceremony will be at Perez Elementary School at 7500 S. Pleasant Valley Road this Saturday, November 1st. Seating begins at 10:45 a.m. The ceremony will last from 11 to 1.


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