Del Valle neighborhood impacted by floods hopes for buyout help

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 8:20 PM

DEL VALLE, Texas -- As Central Texans prepare for the cold, hundreds of others are still reeling from the Halloween floods.

Austin is moving ahead with its buyout program, and Travis County is making plans to buy property in other hard-hit neighborhoods.

In the Timber Creek neighborhood in Del Valle was hit hard by the Halloween floods. The rush of water from Onion Creek ripped trailers from their foundations, leaving them in ruins and property owners wondering what to do next.

On Tuesday Elsa Simental watched workers clean up what's left of her boss' property. She's now wondering what to do with her home she had up for rent.

"My property at Onion Creek was damaged," she said. "More than 50 percent of its value, and we don't know what to do. We're stuck."

"It's not my main home, but that little bit of money that I was making was helping me with my home," she tells KVUE.

Flood victims spoke to Travis County commissioners Tuesday, asking to be included in the buyout program.

"The only right thing is to do what Austin did, find money. Austin came in and they found money to buy houses. I think you all can find money to figure out a way to buy this out," resident Wes Jewel said.

Travis County is holding two meetings this week to see how many property owners are interested in selling and where they are located. Officials say right now there are enough funds to buy 27 lots in the lower portion of the Timber Creek neighborhood.

Travis County started its buyout program in 1998. So far it has purchased 147 homes. Most of them were in Timber Creek. The county used bonds and federal grants to purchase the homes.

County officials expect to hear from dozens of homeowners who are ready to sell. The say they are scrambling to find enough money to buy all the property they can.

"I think that whatever financial decisions would be appropriate for this court, I think we need to bear in mind that those are immediately in front of us and act accordingly," Bruce Todd said.

A public meeting for Timber Creek homeowners will be held Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the South Rural Community Center on FM 973 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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