When Martindale Mayor Maebeth Bagley announced a Federal Emergency Management Agency buy out last month for 36 homeowners whose properties were damaged in the floods of October 1998 and November 2001, she expressed hopes that the program would be completed and residents moved out of flood-prone areas before floodwaters raised the San Marcos River once again. Didn’t happen quite that way.
Though the Caldwell County town received far less damage that some other areas in the flood event that began in Central Texas this June 28, two homes within the Martindale city limits were flooded and a third received damage to its foundation, Bagley said this week. “It was a good warning I guess,” Bagley said. “We were lucky because the creeks ran off prior to the coming of the Blanco flood on Friday, July 5.”
In all, the town of Martindale saw seven rises in the San Marcos River during the flood event. Four of those rises flooded the FM 1979 river bridge, damaging a water line and forcing residents on the Guadalupe County side of the river to boil their water before using or drinking it.
“Our water supply corporation had almost $7,000 in damage to its lines across the river,” she said.
Preliminary estimates put total damage in Caldwell County at around $325,000, Bagley said, including lost livestock and damage to utilities and roadways. Of the 36 properties eligible for the FEMA buy out, 27 lie in the actual floodway, with the remaining nine being in the floodplain. The city has been approved for $1,567,368 in FEMA funds, which is 75 percent of the projected total of $2,089,824.
While that won’t make any of the affected property owners rich, Bagley said it should afford them some “seed money” to help them establish a new residence. Though many Martindale residents are low-income, they are also homeowners and Bagley said some residents continue to live in flood-damaged, even mold-infested homes because they can neither afford repairs nor find a buyer.
Participation in the buy out is voluntary. Bagley said many residents are still unsure if they want to participate because FEMA appraisers have yet to give them an estimate of how much money they may be able to get. Bagley said those appraisals should be underway within a couple of weeks. They will be conducted by FEMA staff and are to accurately reflect the worth of the property before it was damaged by floodwaters.
Property owners who do not choose to participate could eventually see their properties condemned, Bagley said, if the entire community is to be able to get flood insurance in the future.
Written by Anita Miller, News Editor