Onion Creek residents still unable to return home

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 8:04 AM

AUSTIN -- More than 1,000 people in Southeast Austin will not be able to go home Thursday night.

The Austin Fire Department is conducting neighborhood inspections for flood damage, like downed live wires and gas leaks.

Onion Creek overflowed its banks during storms late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, leaving many neighbors trying to evacuate, then clean up.

Overnight storms left cars submerged and homes threatened by floodwaters in a way that residents say has never happened before.

"A couple of guys came by in a boat about 5:30 and said, 'yeah, climb up on your roof, get to higher ground' and our daughter is ill and she wasn't able to do it," said flood victim Chris Blankenship. "It was really difficult."

For some Onion Creek residents, the only point of refuge was the roof. They had to break a window, climb out of their loft, then get themselves up top and wait for help.

Chris and Barbara Fransden said they had no choice as they watched the floodwaters race through their game room.

"We waited until the water got halfway up the stairs," Chris Fransden said.

Similar anxious moments came for the Yates and 82-year-old Ike Rabb, who lives alone.

"I spent the better part of the morning walking around in water up to here and pushing furniture out," Rabb said.

"We have a sliding glass door in the back and it was about like this [chest high] when it was ankle deep inside," said Elvah Yates. "It was really scary and we were wondering if we were going to be able to get out."

Once out, Jeff Yates saw a neighbor trying to help a man trapped on the roof of his car with the water rising rapidly.

"[I] tried to swim twice and I couldn't because the current was too strong. I couldn't get out to him," he said.

Yates tied several hoses together and threw them to the stranded driver, who pulled himself to safety.

Many residents are grateful for the little things. The Yates' two dogs, Gracie and Murphy, awakened them in time. And despite having to climb to their roof and wait for help, the Fransdens saw a bright side.

"We went up to the top and we got to see the sunrise from up there," Chris Fransden said.

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