Onion Creek area residents hoping for speedy buyouts

Jose Vara has lived on Ladybug Street in the Onion Creek area for 22 years. During the Halloween flood of 2013, he and his family ended up on the roof to escape the water. On Friday, he rushed home to save what he could from a new threat.

"I got here before the water started rising so I managed to put some stuff up on beds and stuff.  My kids clothes and shoes, electronics and stuff," Vara said.

By himself, in his newly renovated home. Trying to save it once again. It was an emotional moment.

"It's hard to explain. So many different emotions, so many different feelings at the same time. And at the same time trying to do the best you can to save as much as you can," he said.

Vara says in 2013, the water came up about 2 feet.  This time, only about 8 inches. Still quite a bit of damage. But for those who lost everything, help is out there.

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is made up of 158 churches in the area. They're providing financial help to victims and even clothing through their 'thrift store.' And soon volunteers will be able to help from the front lines.

"The City of Austin along with Travis County are both coordinating an effort to build a resource center for volunteers to come and get assignments.  There's a lot of debris removal," said Daniel Geraci with Austin Disaster Relief.

After the 2013 flood, many in the Onion Creek area chose to take the city's buyout option, others didn't.

"We've purchased about 585 homes to date in the Onion Creek area. We have over 200 left to purchase.  We're in various stages of purchasing those 200 that remain," said Lauraine Rizer, Director of Real Estate Services Department.

Vara said he didn't want to participate at first but eventually took the city up on their offer. His home is one of the 200 in the process of being bought out. At the moment he's making his house livable but he's not sure if he needs to permanently fix it or wait for the buyout.

"The last time so many people came but one person would tell you one thing, another person would tell you another thing.  Some people said 'Yeah go ahead and fix it, you're going to stay, you're not going to be moved out.'  Ok sounds good. Other people: 'don't fix it, don't do anything yet.'  Who do we listen to?" Vara said.

The city's real estate services department tells FOX 7 on Monday, they've been getting a lot of calls about buyouts since the flood.

The department says they are still going through and looking at the damages and they hope to make new recommendations about the buyout process to city council by the end of the week.

"If they're really going to buy us out, buy out  now!  Don't wait until this happens again to us.  It's like they're playing with us," Vara said.

New numbers from Austin Code: the department has assessed 419 properties. Of those, 10 are dangerous, 202 are substandard and 39 are pending.