Travis Co. Flood victims take emotional stories to Commissioners Court
On October 30th, many Travis County residents were fighting for their lives in a flood like they've never seen before. In a painful testimony before County Commissioners on Tuesday, Edward Hernandez pleaded for answers.
"I lost my son in the flood that day," Hernandez said to Commissioners.
He asked Commissioners if a new drainage system on FM 973 was responsible for flooding his neighborhood.
"That's all I need to know right now if it was because of those drains that destroyed our neighborhood and everything and destroyed my son's life," Hernandez said.
Commissioners didn't know the answer to that question but Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt added it to a list of concerns the county needs to get to the bottom of.
Edward's son, 36-year-old Eddie Hernandez was swept away in the Del Valle area during the flood. Edward's other son Jeremy was in the car with his 2 brothers when Eddie died.
"All of a sudden the water just rose like 5 feet high. It was to our window. And so then that's when we jumped out...all of us made it out of the car," Jeremy Hernandez said.
Hernandez says he and his brothers held on to a pole but another car hit the pole and they had to let go. He and his brother Josh survived. Eddie knew he wasn't going to.
"He was just telling us to take care of my mom and his kids and the grandkids," Hernandez said.
Also, people who live in the Thoroughbred Ranchettes neighborhood in the Del Valle area are having problems like looting and flood insurance.
"Because of new drainage that was put in 973, most of us thought we were safe. They told us we were no longer in the flood zone. Come to find out, October 30th...it was a whole different story," said Willie Torres.
Torres and his son Willie Jr. say because the neighborhood was no longer considered a flood plain, the family home wasn't covered by flood insurance.
"The escrow dropped us from flood insurance that was connected to our mortgage and once that happened we had to go out on our own and try to find a third party insurance," Willie Jr. said from the podium -- something he says the family couldn't afford. This issue was also added to Eckhardt's list.
"Where's Travis County? Where's the help that we really need to come in? FEMA and government help. Where is it? We're in the dark right now?" Willie Jr. said.
Commissioners also approved waiving permit fees for flood victims at or below 200% of the poverty line -- allowing victims to rebuild as long as they meet certain criteria like elevating the homes.
Some of the flood victims that came on Tuesday have said most of the flood meetings have been only for people inside the Austin city limits.
According to Commissioners, this Thursday at the Del Valle Community Center at 6:30 there will be a flood information meeting for victims out in the county.
Also for those cleaning up after the flood, Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services are giving free Tetanus shots.
The Far South Clinic on 405 West Stassney and the St. John Community Center Clinic on 7500 Blessing Avenue are open Monday through Friday.
For more information, call 512-972-5520.