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Council Meets to Address Flood Relief, Buyouts

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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
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Pleasant Valley just south of William Cannon: Two rescue workers attempted a rescue, but water was too high. They turned around to return and go back with a boat on Oct. 30.

Austin City Council members met Sunday to vote on a handful of flood disaster relief items.

The meeting started with anger, tears and pleas.

“How many floods do we have to go through?” asked Onion Creek resident Anna Perez. “How many lives have to be lost?”

Perez and other residents asked the City to speed up its buyouts of home in the Onion and Williamson Creek floodplains. The City of Austin has completed roughly half of its planned 600 home buyout.

“Council members, the biggest issue with the buyout program we have today is the number of homes on the market,” said Lauraine Rizer with the city’s Office of Real Estate Services. She said part of the buyout program is helping the family to find a new home. But that’s become increasingly hard to do considering Austin’s rising home prices. The money the city pays for homes in the buyout program are comparatively low.

“If a family needed to be relocated within Austin ISD, there were zero homes for us to offer them,” Rizer told council.

City staff said they’ve started to look outside of Austin, as far as Buda. Mayor Steve Adler said try Kyle, as well. Council also voted Sunday to waive permitting fees for those who will have to rebuild their homes after last month’s flooding. Members also approved including insurance claim refunds as part of future buyouts – something that was not previously done.

While the city is offering buyouts, Travis County is also offering a buyout program to those in homes that are within the county but outside Austin city limits.

Those affected by floods can visit the city website for a complete list of resources.

The city and county have partnered to open a volunteer center for those looking to assist in cleaning up homes and removing debris in flood-affected areas, located at the Crossroads Christian House of Prayer on East William Cannon Drive.  Volunteers must fill out a liability form online and receive a safety briefing onsite prior to assisting in cleanup.

The volunteer center will be open today from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will be open throughout the week until Saturday Nov. 14. 

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