Two days after La Grange, Texas saw historic flooding from Hurricane Harvey, many are finally able to return to their homes and businesses.
On Monday, the Colorado River in La Grange crested at 54.1 feet, the third highest level the river has reached in recorded history. The highest crest came in at 56.70 feet in 1869 and the second highest came in at 56.40 feet in 1913. Mandatory evacuations forced about 300 people from their homes.
Residents were hit hard by the flooding:
On Wednesday, the gauge at the river reads at 23 feet and the bridge at Highway 71 is still closed.
Residents will have to wait until the City of La Grange finishes structural assessments of homes in the area, they told KVUE's Christy Millweard. When residents do return, police are suggesting that they get copies of ownership or rental records. Police are also warning residents about people who offer to repair flooded homes. They suggest homeowners keep a list of contractors and their contact information and to ask for a permit if someone offers to fix their home for free. La Grange has an ordinance against peddlers, police said.
A few told KVUE that an orange "X" was a mark from officials that it was okay to access the building, after they checked it for structural damage.
KVUE went with Julio and Juana Caseres as they opened their front door for the first time since the flood water in La Grange receeded.
It's a short walk, but one full of anxiety and nerves.
"It's bad man," said Caseres as he saw his belongings covered in mud and water.
The home holds 7 years of mementos and memories, many from their 3 young children.
"It's wet everything, it was full of water," said Caseres as he showed us his daughter's room.
He and his wife found everyday belongings.
"That was my clothes I use when I go to church," said Caseres.
And their irreplaceable items.
"Oh yeah, my wife's ring," said Caseres.
Despite all their things being soaked, Caseres is actually thankful.
"I say thanks god you know because we're here, this, we can deal with this, I mean this you know, not the most important thing, the most important thing for us is my family," said Caseres. "Everybody stay safe, so that's thing, and then this, we can, I mean it makes me sad to see this, but I mean what else can I do".
He also told KVUE the support from his neighbors has been amazing.
"I got hundreds of calls, you know, do you need something, you need water, you need clothes, you need money, so they here for us," said Caseres.
Several businesses just off of the downtown square, along 71, were filled with several feet of water on Monday:
Tuesday, a few people went into their business to begin clean-up before officials moved them out to check for structural damage and a possible gas leak.But for many, Wednesday was the first time they were able to see the mud that filled their office buildings.
"It's sad, it's really bad," said Irasema Villasana, who works at Phillip Adamcik's State Farm Insurance agency.She said they got computers out, but desks and chairs are overturned, laying on a blanket of mud.
"I feel like I just balled and cried, it's horrible," said Villasana. "Everybody has to start over again, so it's sad."For now, she says they're working remotely, still able to help their clients by phone.
"It's okay, we'll be fine, it will take about a month to rebuild and we'll be back in business," said Villasana. "We got out all the main important necessities that we needed to operate for State Farm."She has a hopeful outlook, and agrees, their fellow neighbors have been more than willing to help.
"All this can be replaced, it's just things," said Villasana. "They're just things, things can be replaced and we'll work hard again to do it."A few doors down, Donna Webb gave KVUE a tour of her salon.
"Our reception desk was right here," said Webb.
She has had her salon for six years in this location.
She measured the water line inside her salon to be almost 7 feet inside the salon.
"We were told it was going to be just a few inches of water, maybe, maybe 2 to 3 feet, at the very most, and that was that morning," said Webb.
She's hoping to clean up quickly.
"Get up and running as soon as possible, this is our livelihood, you know we don't work, we don't get paid," said Webb.
She said a nearby salon has allowed their stylists to move in while they work to repair the salon.
"It's truly amazing seeing everyone come together and like and its awesome, even though its so devastating," said Webb.