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Community Leaders Begin Recovery Phase for Flood Victims

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It will be a long road ahead to recovery for those affected by the devastating flooding in Central Texas, and community leaders continue to step up their efforts.
   At a meeting Sunday they discussed what assistance is being provided and ways to keep residents safe.
  The heavy rains have come and gone, but the impact has residents and other community members still picking up the pieces.
   Mark Marcellus, Senior Pastor of First Church is one of those people.
   He says the church sustained at least $80 thousand in damage.
   "Everything is a total loss, all of our content. We lost all our pews, we lost all of our kitchen, all of our nursery, all of our PA equipment. Monday we start ripping out all the sheet rock," says Mark Marcellus, senior pastor, First Church.
    The Bluff Springs area in southeast Austin was one of the hardest hit.
    Many lost everything, but they say one thing that can't be taken away is their spirit.
   "It was actually really inspiring to see everybody still coming together and church still going on. This church has always been that way, it stands really strong," says Matthew Reid, resident.
   City officials tell us they are finished with the initial response phase and are now starting the short-term recovery.
   Several issues need attention right away.
   "If you have hazardous materials, such as fertilizer, pesticide, bleach, things you're going to throw away, just keep them. Give 311 a call," says Sam Angoori, Austin Resource Recovery Department, City of Austin.
   125 tons of debris was picked up within 12 hours to help clear the path for residents hoping to be let back home.
   "They are bouncing back, they are fighting back and we're going to work with them all the way. All the way through this recovery to make sure that things are taken care of in the neighborhood," says Carl Smart, Code Compliance Department, City of Austin.
    That's why inspectors continue doing a damage assessment of homes.
    So far, 324 have been marked with a red placards for having major violations, meaning residents are discouraged to enter without an official because they are unsafe.
   Another 185 properties have been marked with a yellow placard, meaning residents should use extreme caution when entering.
   Residents will be receiving permits to get through the neighborhood and are advised to be careful even around homes with no placards.
    Another big concern is with the removal of dead animals.
   "Due to the rough terrain around the area, we are asking that you give as much detail as you can in that report to 311. Give us some landmarks, give us the reference points so we can find the carcass when we get out in the field," says Abigail Smith, Austin Animal Services.
   Although the animals don't pose any immediate risk, residents are urged not to touch them.
   Dove Springs Recreation Center, is serving as the Flood Assistance Center, and is set up to help families get back on their feet.
   AISD and a program called Project Help are making sure students have transportation to and from school.
   Shelter, short-term housing and mental health assistance are other services being provided.
   It's located at 5801 Ainez Drive, 78744 or call 512-447-5875 for information.

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