Federal Help & Crooks targeting Caldwell Co Flood Relief

Over the weekend FEMA expanded the disaster declaration list to 20 counties in Texas. Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties were included in that expansion and that move may take a lot of pressure off of local volunteers who are getting burned out.

A clothing distribution center opened in Martindale not long after the flood waters started to recede. Cynthia Jones, who organized the effort, drives in every day from her home in Wimberley.

"These people have their prayers and faith in God, they don't have the monetary in the bank to help them ... today right now and that's what they need," said Jones.

Much of what's available was provided by her neighbors.

"People are very generous, they have my phone number, they call me up, they come to my house, they drop things in my car, my car is always unlocked, I get up in the morning and there are items on my door to take to Martindale, they know it was an eye opener for everybody," said Jones.

Several of the volunteers at the center like Azenet Arellano are flood victims themselves. Her home located just down the street is among 50 that were damaged.

"To me to be here is more important, I let go of my job to be here, it's just good to be here, it takes us away from, because there is not much we can do, it's just a waiting period, but to help out is even more fulfilling," said Arellano.

Others volunteers are from hundreds of miles away people like Ashley Hill and her family who arrived Sunday from west Texas. While hill and her kids hand out free food her husband is helping with the search and recovery.

"We have kiddos that are close in age of the kids that are missing so we would just hope people would come and help us find our babies, if we were missing them," said Hill.

Replacing what the river washed away is not the only challenge for those who live in this community. There are cases of individuals, crooks, who are showing up and taking advantage of the good will that's here. Saturday someone drove off with a load of new underwear according to Mayor Randy Bunker.

"And they're coming back time and time again. And we have to shamefully, it breaks out heart to ask for ID to find out if they are really a victim, we try not to turn anybody away, but when folks come out of Hays County and say there is nowhere to get help and we know that's not true and two days in a row your taking car loads of things for a family of five, and then we find out you are not a flood victim, that's stealing," said Mayor Bunker.

Despite the thefts, the Mayor says the relief effort will continue as long as the need remains.

Specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available.

Location and dates of operation:

Hays County

Wimberley Community Center

14068 Ranch Road 12

Wimberley, TX 78676

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice

Parking lot between San Marcos Activity Center and San Marcos Public Library

501 E. Hopkins

San Marcos, TX 78666

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice

Blanco Gardens Neighborhood

801 River Rd.

San Marcos, TX 78666

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice

People who had storm damage in counties designated for individual assistance can register for FEMA assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or via smartphone or web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Multilingual operators are available. Flood survivors statewide can call and report their damage to give the state and FEMA a better idea of the assistance that is needed in undesignated counties.