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LISTEN: How One Austin Family is Rebuilding After the Halloween Floods

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News
Bene Jacobs, outside her destroyed home in Onion Creek. Jacobs, her partner and their children were rescued from their neighbor's roof.

This year, KUT News is chronicling the challenges and changes affecting Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood in a series called “Turning the Corner.”

These stories have taken on added urgency in the aftermath of Austin’s Halloween floods, where flooding directly affected many Dove Springs residents. 

Bene Jacobs’ morning routine hasn’t changed that much. She still gets up before 6 a.m., before it’s light outside.

In the darkness, at her cousin’s house in Del Valle, Bene struggles to find her way into the room where her children sleep. “Still learning all the light switches,” she whispers.

Jacobs and her family were left homeless from the floods that hit the southeast Austin community of Onion Creek three weeks ago.

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News
A photo taken earlier in the month, as 10-year-old Issac was fitted for prosthetics.

Her routine hasn’t changed that much – but everything else has. 

Now, all of Bene’s kids share one bedroom. There’s three of them: from Bene’s previous marriage, 10-year-old Isaac, who is constantly monitored due to his special needs and disability; five-year-old Alyssa; and 15-month-old Acelee. Bene’s partner Lawrence also has a daughter named Lauren from a previous relationship.

Once Bene has changed Isaac’s and Acelee’s diapers that mormning, things speed up. There’s breakfast to be made before all the school buses arrive. Some come from Austin to get Bene’s kids. Another one comes from Del Valle ISD to get her cousin’s kids.

The house is buzzing with activity

“We are now up to 12,” says Bene. “My cousin, her husband and their five kids. And then, it’s Lawrence, I and our three – so we are up to 12 in the household.”

 Listen to the full report in the audio player above.  

Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News
Isaac's loaner wheelchair arrived on the last day KUT spent with the family. Before that, Bene hauled her son around in a car seat.

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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