Victims of the deadly floods that struck Central Texas over Memorial Day weekend are sorting through the physical wreckage of the storms. In San Marcos, they’re also trying to make sense of what happened and what comes next.
On Saturday, Erik and Heather Adams dropped their two kids off at her mom’s house for a date night — some drinks and a movie. Then it started raining — hard. The Blanco and San Marcos Rivers flooded. Now, it’s three days later, and they’re exhausted. They're hauling their soaked possessions, a pair of cowboy boots, books, a coffee table, out of their apartment in San Marcos.
“Just trying to see if that’s actually any good after something like this,” Erik says.
As he starts to go through his more personal items, he tears up.
“This right here you know, it’s my safe. And when I was younger I had surgery, and I was in the first grade and I got get-well cards… and…Just some the stuff that you can’t replace… from you know, friends, when I was younger…."
As the the couple deals with the loss, they are also starting to ask a question you hear a lot in the neighborhood: Where’s the help?
“Nobody’s been out here to even help us clean out anything, and I think that’s kind of a slap in the face,” Erik says.
“I agree,” says Heather. “We all need a lot of help. We all have just so much stuff we’ve gotta clear out. The mold is going to start. I’m sure it already started. We just need to get things cleaned out so that it can be salvaged.”
“[We] desperately need dumpsters,” says the Adams’s landlord, Diana Steinhagen. “We’re just piling everything out on the curb.”
Steinhagen is emptying out the apartment next door. She wonders whether nearby development might have contributed to the flooding.
“They have raised the level of that land, so what used to be low ground is no longer low ground. So we were in the process of getting flood insurance — I had the flood elevation. The survey was done last week. But the flood insurance is not in place yet, and now this situation occurred,” says Steinhagen.
A couple buildings over, Linda Gutierrez waited out the flood in her son’s second-story apartment, and she says she’s glad she did. After the police ordered the evacuation, several cars got stranded in the flooding on the road.
“They were all from the evacuation. So if [we] had gone, we would have been in the water also,” Gutierrez says.
She wants to know: Should the city have handled the evacuation differently?
“They were trying to help, but the water was coming from where the cars had to go,” she says.
But the most pressing questions for a lot of the people in San Marcos are two simple and heartbreaking ones: Where are they going to find a new place to live, and how are they going to afford to live there?
Looking for a way to help Central Texas flood victims? We're compiling a list of ways to donate time, goods and money to various places affected by the storms here. If we're missing anything — hotlines, drop-off locations, etc. — let us know in the comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to us on Twitter.