Craig Coleman spent this week picking up the pieces of his business.
Since 2006 Coleman has owned Don’s Fish Camp in Martindale, where he rents tubes to leisurely visitors of the Blanco River just outside of San Marcos. On Halloween, he was checking weather reports of the heavy rains coming in, but went to bed thinking everything would be fine.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams it would wash away my whole business,” Coleman said.
The swollen river swept his office into a field 300 yards away. The building containing all of his river tubes was completely washed away, though about 80 percent of the tubes have been recovered. He estimates the flood damage at $200,000.
Nearly all 29 of the buses he uses to haul customers will have to be scrapped and replaced because of water damage. Two were finally fished out of the river this week.
Coleman used a bulldozer Thursday to push huge pieces of debris into a pile to burn. He did not have flood insurance. Since all of the buildings and equipment were more than 100 yards from the river’s edge, he didn’t think he needed it.
“People underestimate Mother Nature and she showed us why that’s a bad idea,” Coleman said.
Just over the county line, Hays County officials estimated more than 80 homes and four businesses were damaged in the Oct. 31 floods. Many of them were in and around Kyle and Buda. Most did not have flood insurance because they were located away from flood plains.
Nichole Rodriguez had several inches of water in the entryway, bedroom and garage of her Kyle home when a nearby storm drain overflowed, causing water from the street to end up in her house.
“This is the first time we’ve ever flooded,” she said.
Rodriguez is not alone, said Kharley Smith, emergency management coordinator for Hays County.
“This flood was different from anything that we had expected,” Smith said. “We saw areas flood that we had not seen flood in the past. They weren’t in the flood plain and wouldn’t have known about flood insurance.”
County officials estimate that the damage to public property alone is over $1 million, including $150,000 in damage to a fire station in Buda and about $250,000 in damage to the lower campus at Buda Elementary, which was insured. Classes resumed in the building four days after the floods, but many personal classroom items were destroyed, said Tim Savoy, spokesman for the Hays school district.
“It’s those little personalized items that make an elementary school an elementary school that were so hard to lose,” he said. Most of those items came out of the teacher’s pockets and donations of gift cards to help replace those supplies would be welcome, he said.
The Katherine Anne Porter School, a nonprofit charter school in Wimberley, sustained heavy damage but didn’t have flood insurance, said school superintendent Jordan Elliott-Pierce. Classes have resumed. A fundraiser last weekend raised about $20,000 to help repair the damaged roof and floors, but that will only cover about a third of the cost to replace the roof.
HOW TO HELP
Several agencies in the Austin area are collecting donations of items and money for flood victims:
Austin Disaster Relief Network
Collecting financial donations for gift cards, shelter, housing, rebuilding, transportation and other needs. To donate, visit www.adrntx.org or mail to Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN), P.O. Box 3817, Cedar Park, TX 78630.
The network also is organizing volunteers to help with the cleanup. Volunteer at www.adrntx.org/index.php/central-tx-flood-news or call 512-331-2600 for information.
American Red Cross of Central Texas
Collecting financial donations. Visit www.redcross.org/tx/austin, call 512-928-4271 or mail to 2218 Pershing Drive, Austin, TX 78723
Salvation Army of Central Texas
Collecting financial donations. www.salvationarmytexas.org/austin.
United Way for Greater Austin
Has launched a text-to-give campaign and online donation page for flood victims. To make a $10 donation to support long-term recovery efforts for flood victims, text UWATX to 85944, or visit uwatx.org/flood.