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MLK Day Cleanup Rids Flood-Stricken Onion Creek Park of Debris

The flood-stricken neighborhood of Onion Creek honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today by cleaning a community park that’s been covered with debris since last year’s Halloween flood.

Metallic doors, glass from broken windows, gas tanks were among the many items strewn about the park. Mary-Lee Plumb-Mentjes filled an entire bucket with broken glass. “I’ve always picked up trash,” Plumb-Mentjes said. “We’ve been given two hands [and] I feel we should use [them] when we see something,”

Plumb-Mentjes is a retired environmental regulator who lives in Alaska. But the devastation left by the flooding in Onion Creek touched her so deeply, that she came to help with today’s cleanup.

“I worked in the Civil Rights movement, so I like to think of something that I can do on Dr. King’s birthday. People go and say ‘Well, [the people in Onion Creek] must be OK now.’ But when you drive around you see they are not OK.”

Even with this cleanup effort from many neighbors and some Travis County employees, the waters of Onion Creek are still full of debris. Volunteers were able to move some of it to the curb where city crews will do the pickup. But almost three months after the flood, the city has yet to give a date for when that will happen.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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