Woman uses shipping container to rebuild Onion Creek home

Linda Donovan is lifting her new rental home to keep it from being flooded by Onion Creek.

TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS - After flood waters destroyed her Onion Creek rental homes twice, Linda Donovan took rebuilding one of them to a whole new height.

Donovan's rental home off Bluff Springs Road in South Travis County is a recycled shipping container that sits 8 feet off the ground. Some elevation is required by law in order to build in the 100-year flood plain but Donovan added an extra 3 feet just in case.

"The elevation was to be in compliance significantly above the flood plain," said Donovan.

Donovan bought the 4.7 acres of land between Bluff Springs Road and Onion Creek in 2010. She saw first hand the devastation caused by flooding on Halloween 2013 and Halloween 2015.

"I would say the water was at least five feet deep in the street," said Donovan.

The storage container home is around 400 yards from Onion Creek, and debris from the 2013 and 2015 floods are still present. A piece of plywood stuck in a large pecan tree showed how high the water got: about 35 to 40 feet above the creek.

The historic flash flood in 2013 claimed at least five lives, destroyed or damaged nearly 700 homes and killed several animals. Blanco, a white mule, nearly died then. A picture of Blanco on the porch of the second rental home highlighted the brown water marks outside the house. The water got so high that Blanco was in distress, forcing his owner to physically hold the mule's head above water for 30 minutes before help arrived.

At times, Donovan asked herself, "is this worth it?"

Especially after the Memorial Day floods in Wimberley last year.

"I think everybody in the area is haunted by the story of the house that was taken off its piers," said Donovan.

That's why when Donovan decided on piers, she picked engineered, steel-reinforced concrete ones. They are designed so water flows around the piers without pressure building up.

The shipping container itself is sturdy. Inside, roughly 300 square feet that includes a living room, kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, full-sized bathroom, closet and a bedroom.

The container home was finished just last month, and can withstand a 500-year flood.

Donovan tells KVUE it cost her about $45,000 to build the home, but she expects insurance to reimburse some of the cost.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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