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South Austin residents recovering from storm, brace for next rainfall

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The Williamson Creek Neighborhood, in south Austin was one of the hardest hit areas in town. They are cleaning up and salvaging what they can, in preparation for the next big wave of rainfall.

It doesn't matter if it's two inches or two feet, when water gets inside your home, nothing is safe.

"It takes out everything on the floor, the bottoms of any furniture you have, all your cabinetry, your doors, so gutting just has to happen no matter what," said Kelly Davis-Burns says when we get a lot of rain, Williamson Creek leaves its banks and consumes the south Austin neighborhood she's lived in for 18 years.

She said, "It comes in the front. It comes in the back and it kind of wakes, strangely, in the backyard."

Just by looking at the bent grass, brush and tree limbs, you can see a clear path of where the water was raging...with so much force it took out portions of fencing as it made its way from house to house...and rising well above the foundation of the house, higher than knee level.

"The cleanup kit has a broom and a mop, some bleach and bucket with some cleaning materials and the like," said Lou Jander, a volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Jander said, "We would've provided some kind of shelter at this point, but it does not appear to be something that is needed at this time."

He says this is one of the harder hit areas in Austin.

Jander added, "Just keep in mind that these people here and tomorrow and the next day are all gonna need help. If nothing else, provide financial assistance to the American Red Cross because everything we give out is free and the service we provide is free as well."

Contractors hired by the city are working fast to fix a damaged storm drain next to the creek.

It's a temporary solution that should hold through the next bit of rainfall.

"It all makes me want to cry," said Cris Burns.

Kelly's husband Cris is helping her clear out what they can.

Even 30 years' worth of his music memorabilia...

"It's all junk now. They can enjoy it down at the trash dump," he said.

And her wedding dress.

Kelly said, "I'll just take a look-see inside. There's a puncture hole there, but it just sort of skimmed...just sort of skimmed the floor there."

Last time Kelly's house looked like this was in 1998 and she never thought it would happen again.

She knows better now and it's a race against time to save their memories.

Another storm is on the way.

According to the city's Watershed Protection Department, they've tried to make improvements to the Williamson Creek neighborhood.

In 1999 the city of Austin partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to research ways to reduce flooding near Williamson Creek.

Some of the suggestions included buying out homes in the floodplain, building detention ponds, raising brides and widening the creek banks.

Residents were allowed to give feedback via surveys in 2005.

Right now, the Watershed Engineering Division does not have a planned project to correct flooding in the Heartwood/Fairview area.

Reps say they plan on re-looking at areas not evaluated by the Corps to see if other structural solutions are possible.

I just want to remind everyone at home, if you see flooded storm drains or clogged culverts in your neighborhood, please call 3-1-1.

This will help the city identify problem areas and prioritize future improvement projects.

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