Travis County plans to trash new appliances in recently bought out home

Homeowners bought out by Travis County after being flooded for the second time have learned that all of their new appliances will be thrown out.

The County said because the house was appraised with the new appliances inside, there is no way to salvage them.
“This home was flooded first in October Halloween 2013 and then again Halloween 2015,” said Rita Friar who lives next door to the recently bought out property. 

Friar said her neighbor's home was hit twice when Onion Creek flooded the Perkins Valley neighborhood.

“First one there was 2-3 feet of water and the second one there was 2-4 inches,” Friar said. 

Her neighbors decided after the first flood to add their home to the Travis County flood buyout list, but because they didn't hear back from the County for two years, they used insurance money to renovate the interior.

“They rebuilt walls, they moved walls, they put all new appliances and faucets, fans, fixtures, everything in the whole house, everything was new,” Friar said. 

In the fall of 2015, after the second flood, the homeowners were told their property would be purchased by the County. They had it appraised and finally signed over the home a couple weeks ago. That's when they found out all the new appliances inside would be tossed out when the house is demolished.

“They were pretty heartbroken about the fact that all the stuff that's inside is going to be crushed up and put in a landfill and that nobody's going to be able to utilize it,” said Friar. 

Friar called the county to ask about purchasing a garage from the home, but was told that was a liability. When she learned nothing inside would be donated either, it didn't sit right with her.

“The thought of putting it in a landfill when someone could use it, someone in the neighborhood, someone in another neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity, someone could use this stuff,” Friar said.

A program manager for Travis County Natural Resources said that because the County purchased the home and everything inside, it is illegal for them to give away any property. The only way a homeowner could donate or keep appliances inside is if the appraiser is told not to include them in the buyout. Otherwise, it's a violation of state law.

“It's such a waste,” Friar said. 

She hopes the law will be reconsidered so that new appliances in this home and homes bought out in the future can be donated instead of demolished.