Giddings shelter for flood victims closing Friday

Several people in Lee County are still living in a shelter almost one month after they were flooded.

Wednesday, they found out the shelter will be closing and many were panicked that they wouldn't have a place to stay.

About 38 people in Giddings were affected by the flood in late May. Terry Trevino was one of them. 

“It's been our home for 11 years,” said Trevino.
               
About 16 inches of rain fell in Giddings during the storm. Trevino and her neighbors came home to a mess after the floodwater tore up their homes and ruined many of their belongings.

“Water went in and damaged some of the floors,” Trevino said.

Trevino didn't have flood insurance and doesn't have another place she can stay, so she and the 12 children in her family moved into the Emanuel Lutheran Church where the Red Cross had set up a shelter.

Then, Wednesday she found out the shelter was planning to close Friday afternoon.

“I feel very, very angry. Very angry because I am a taxpayer and I feel that they should give us more help and not throw us to the dogs,” said Trevino.

Trevino said shelter volunteers told her Lee County Judge Paul Fischer had decided to close the shelter because of a lack of Red Cross volunteers.

“I just wish the judge would stop and think for us, instead of just thinking for himself,” said Trevino. 

Judge Fischer said he spent the last two days trying to find another solution for the families left homeless by the flood.

“I will never put a human being out on the street. I will do everything I can to find a shelter,” Fischer said. 

Fischer worked with county officials to rent out six rooms at the Ramada Inn in Giddings for the next week.

“I know what it's like to lose a home. My mom and dad’s home burned down when I was a sophomore in high school. It affected me personally to know that you had nothing, but the shirt on your back,” said Fischer. 

The Judge is also working with Austin Catholic Charity to find homes that can be rented or donated while homeowners are fixing up their destroyed properties, but Fischer said his hands are tied when it comes to getting federal assistance for families in need because Lee County was not included in a disaster declaration made by President Barack Obama.

“I'm just as impatient and if there was a way I could fly to Washington, say, ‘Come on, sign this thing,’ I would, but we have to wait on the President,” said Fischer. 

The judge said he is also encouraging homeowners in the floodplain to renovate their homes so they meet requirements for flood insurance because it’s not a matter of if, but when the water will rise again.

Judge Fischer said he is also working with the County to try and lower the spillway near the flooded area so less water overflows the creek. He said this is the second time the area has flooded in two years, but the May flood was the worst he's ever seen in Giddings.

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