Leaders of Austin’s flood response said the process is going smoothly as workers and residents transition to recovery mode.
They say there is still a long road ahead, but residents affected by the Halloween floods are being cooperative and resilient.
“I am really touched by this community,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “These folks and the people who live in the Hancock area have shown the best of the human spirit. My officers have been reporting back to me how much they’ve enjoyed working with the community.”
The flood took the lives of four people and seriously damaged dozens of homes. So far city code compliance officers have deemed 12 homes “no occupancy,” meaning they’re too damaged to safely enter. Another 324 properties have been red tagged, meaning they have major safety violations and residents should only enter them with the assistance of emergency workers. Finally, 185 homes have been tagged with yellow makers, meaning they have safety code violations, ranging from broken windows to more serious problems.
Code compliance is about 95 percent finished with inspecting flooded homes. It expects to be finished with initial inspections by the end of the day Sunday.
Austin police are still limiting access to affected neighborhoods to ensure the security of homes there. Residents who need to get to their properties will be given APD permits to speed up access. Acevedo asked that residents use the access point at Canella Drive and Quicksilver Boulevard.
The Red Cross has been assisting residents with food, shelter and cleaning materials. Donations of food, water and other supplies are being accepted at Oak Meadows Baptist Church, 6905 South Interstate 35 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Red Cross Regional CEO Marty McKellips said, however, that monetary donations are the best way to help at this point. Historically, floods have not generated the amount of donations often raised around other natural disasters, but the need is just as great, she said.
"We really need Central Texas to step up," McKellips said.
To donate, go to www.redcross.org and designate funds for Austin flood recovery.
McKellips and other officials urged residents who still need assistance to call 311 or to approach any city or Red Cross worker. She emphasized that recovery volunteers will not ask about your immigration status – they just want to provide you with any assistance you need.
Austin Resource Recovery is working to remove the large amount of debris still in the flood zone. In the past 12 hours, more than 125 tons of debris have been removed. Austin Resource Recovery also working with Austin Animal Services to remove dozens of large animal carcasses that are now visible as the floodwater recedes.
Anyone who knows the location of a large animal carcass is asked to call 311 or to notify a city worker in the neighborhood. Please be as specific as possible.
Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith said any carcasses that can’t be immediately removed because they’re in a difficult-to-reach place can have some mitigation treatment for decomposition problems.
If there are smaller animal carcasses on your property, you can call 311 for instructions on how to safely handle and dispose of the body. While the deceased animals cause no immediate risk to humans, Smith urged residents not to come into direct contact with the carcasses for health safety reasons.
Likewise, Austin Resource Recovery is urging residents not to throw away hazardous material curbside with household or construction waste. If you have hazardous waste, such as solvents, fertilizer, pesticides, bleach or other chemicals, call 311 for a waste pick up.
Some city park trails remain closed due to continuing safety concerns. Residents are asked not to go around barricades at city parks and trails. Barton Springs also remains closed.
The Austin Humane Society has received almost 100 animals from the flood zone and is working to reunite the animals with their owners. The center will remain closed through Tuesday night as efforts are concentrated on animals recovered from the flood area. No animals rescued from the flood waters will be available for adoption until all efforts to reunite them with their owners are exhausted.
Not all animals lost in the Halloween flooding have made it to area shelters. A Facebook page has been created to help owners search for pets that were separated from them in the flood.