Austin to buy out more than 100 homes damaged in flood



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Posted on November 8, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Austin is buying out more than 100 homes near Onion Creek that were devastated by the Halloween flood. But some, including homes marked with red tags, didn't make the cut.

After 26 years on Wild Onion Drive, Jose and Manuela Alcantar will be moving out. The morning of the flood, water rose five feet inside their home.

"It's hard," said Manuela. "I don't want to go through this again."

For this couple, news of a buyout from the city was bittersweet.

"We've been here so long and all that, we really would like to stay," Manuela said. "A lot of these [neighbors] are younger and can start again, what about us?"

The city said many of the homes near Onion Creek have been there since the 1970s, before flood plain regulations even existed. Under today's standards, those homes would have never been built in that area.

The plan to buy homes in the area began 1999, for a total of 323 buyouts so far.

"I have to start over from day one so we need help now, not next month, not a year from now," said resident Bruce Simmons.

Simmons said he hopes he will hear news of a buyout sooner rather than later.

"It's going to happen again," Simmons said. "It might be worse than the last time."

Since the Halloween flood, 115 more homes have been selected based on which ones had the worst damage and where flood levels got the deepest.

"I don't understand the logic," said Lillie Flores, who lives on Wild Onion Drive.

Flores returned home from vacation to a flooded home with four feet of water.

"I have a hot tub in my backyard that doesn't belong to me," she said.

Her home is marked with a red tag, meaning it's not safe and has to be rebuilt. Still, it wasn't included in the buyout even though her neighbors with a yellow tag, meaning damage isn't as bad, are.

"We want a buyout. Not just across the street, not just to the right. You tell me I'm not in a flood zone? Hello, look. What do you see?" Flores said.

For Flores and others in Onion Creek, the nightmare of the Halloween flood will continue, with or without the buyout.

The city said the money for this round of buyouts will come mostly from the Drainage Utility Fund. there is no federal funding available. The total cost is still yet to be determined.

For a map of all the homes included in the buyout plan, go here.



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