Austin leaders could spend more for flood recovery

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Associated Press

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 7:32 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Leaders of a Central Texas city have endorsed a plan that could mean an additional $78 million to buy and raze homes in areas of last October's deadly flooding.

The Austin City Council agreed Friday to consider upping the monthly drainage charge for homes by 75 cents to add funds to the project, according to the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1hTzi2p ). That could join a $30 million funding proposal to be voted on in June that would be used to buy out the most at-risk families living in low-lying areas.

While city negotiators ask the federal government for more financial assistance, people whose homes were lost or damaged in last year's storms continue to live in tents, trailers and moldy dwellings.

Council members Mike Martinez and Laura Morrison introduced the $78 million measure so that the city could buy out nearly every home in the flood-prone areas.

"We don't just have people in harm's way. We have people living in deplorable conditions," Martinez said. "They've living in tents. They're living in trailers. They're facing health defects they would not otherwise be."

Those additional funds could pair with $20 million that Austin city officials have already approved to buy homes on the flood plain. Travis County government has committed $5 million. The U.S. government has earmarked $11.8 million for the buyout plan, but Austin leaders hope for more federal money.

The $78 million the council advanced a plan for would be available starting Oct. 1, with homes to be bought and razed, and the area to be left as undeveloped parkland.

The homes were built in decades before the government enacted safety regulations that today would prohibit building.

At least six people died in the Central Texas flooding that caused an estimated $100 million in damage to Travis County and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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