AFD presents preliminary analysis of flood response


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 11:24 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 11:40 PM

AUSTIN -- One month after a wall of water rushed the Dove Springs neighborhood, homes are still boarded up. Debris is scattered across yards and homes are vacant.

"It just seems to get harder and harder. Like it feels like we've been, not forgotten, but we're not getting all the help we should be getting, I feel like. This happened here in Austin, and I'm still meeting people right now that don't even know it happened," said flood victim Aly Lozano. 

But Austin firefighters say their efforts haven't stopped.

"The historic flood that occurred on Oct. 31 is an ongoing event, still 32 days later," Austin Fire Chief of Staff Harry Evans told the Austin Public Safety Commission Monday night.

Evans presented an overview of the department's response.

"On that day our firefighters, your firefighters, police officers, paramedics did a fantastic and exceptional job in the rescue efforts," Evans said.

Austin firefighters evacuated more than 200 people during the floods. In Pflugerville Austin crews rescued 34 people. In the Bluff Springs area, 117 people were rescued, along with 15 people in the Pinehurst area near the Onion Creek Country Club. Near South Pleasant Valley Road, firefighters rescued 169 people and another 45 people near Pearce Lane and SH 130.

"However, as noted early on in the town hall meetings, there are areas, strategic areas where we're not satisfied with some of our efforts," Evans added. 

One of those areas are the rescue boats. The fire department had five boats responding.

"We have to ask ourselves, 'Are our rescue boats, the boats we use for swift water rescue, are they in the right place based on what we see now? Do we have enough boats?'" Evans asked. 

Another question asked was whether staffing should be increased when extreme weather is approaching and how the City can get more people to register their cell phones for the reverse 911 system.

These are all challenges people in the Dove Springs neighborhood want to help the City solve.

"We wanted to know basically what took place, how it took place. We want to fix the problem. Everybody work together and have some type of action and solution to what has taken place," said Dove Springs resident Mario Cantu.

In the coming months Austin firefighters and City staffers will conduct a full analysis of the response, looking at what they did right and wrong and how to fix it. That report is expected to be finished sometime next year.