After the Waters Recede, A Neighborhood Pulls Together

May 26, 2015

Sitting in her neighbor’s car in the parking lot at the San Marcos Activity Center, Lynn Young looks desolate. She’s an older, fragile-seeming woman who recently suffered a stroke and walks with a cane.

At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, police came to her apartment in San Marcos and ordered her to evacuate.

Her 30 year-old son told her to go. He stayed behind with her helper dog. By early Sunday afternoon, she hadn’t heard from her son.

Her neighbor, David Barry, has offered to go back and look for her son. Barry has elaborate tattoos and piercings and looks like the kind of guy who might ride a Harley. And turns out he does.

“It seems like we might be able to get back now and check it out,” Barry says. “And then see what’s up from there.”

Young and Barry both live in Colony Square, a collection of two-story apartment buildings on River Road between the San Marcos and the Blanco Rivers, both of which flooded.

When they get back to her apartment, Young opens the door. The carpet by the entrance is wet. But further inside the place seems okay. Her son isn’t there. But her dog is waiting.

Mud coats the ground as evidence of the water that was there just hours before.

“By the time we left I mean it was pretty deep already,” Barry says. “It was definitely three feet deep by the time we got to the road.”

Colony Square resident David Barry with his motorcycle.
Credit Mose Buchele/KUT

Then he sees it.

“My motorcycle!” he cries. “Oh, look at the water line on the motorcycle!”

It looks like the water reached maybe half a foot up the bike, maybe a bit more. Some more neighbors gather around for the moment of truth. How much damage can that kind of soaking do?

Barry puts the key in the ignition.

“It should start right away; it’s a Harley,” he says.

He turns the key. It starts right up.

There’s more good news. This time for Lynn Young. She sees a neighbor, Brandon Abbot.

“I saw your son,” Abbot tells her. “He was walking your dog. Him and the dog are fine.”

Young tells Brandon that her place is actually pretty dry. Says if he needs a place to stay she has a spare room. But he’s planning on staying at his girlfriend's.  We go to his apartment to check the damage.
The carpet is soaked through with flood water.

“Everything is wet, everything is ruined,” Abbot says. “Luckily I put my TV up on the sink, and I put some of the electronics up. I came back and got most of my clothes out the important stuff that I needed.” 

He says he hit a rough patch when he left the Army. He moved in here in February trying to get his life together. Now the flood has ruined his place. So what now?

“I’m not too mad about it,” Abbot says. “I came from nothing. I started going to school. I got two jobs. I just got me a place to stay, I was on my way to bettering myself. I’m not going to stop.”

Back in the parking lot I run into David Barry one last time.

“I moved here with the anticipation of just staying for six months,” he tells me. “But after the six months, I signed up for another year, because the people here are just fantastic. Everyone just watches out for each other’s backs here.”

He’s off to get his wife and daughter and come back to start cleaning.