TARG! Disaster Recovery Work
On Halloween of 2013, there was a devastating flood in Austin, TX. It was not huge ongoing news around the country and many people in Austin never registered it was going on. It was like a mini-lower 9th ward. Fast and furious flood waters coming in during the early morning hours. Six people were killed, 1000 homes affected, almost 700 were majorly damaged. People had to escape onto their roofs, some were airlifted by helicopter or taken out by boat. Lots of animals were lost, 22 horse killed – you get the picture, it was bad.
Because I had a connection with someone who lived in the flood zone several of us were able to get in during the early days to help gut homes, distribute what we could and provide a hot meal. Austin Common Ground in fact was born an for two solid months we provided a hot meal everyday, distributed clothes, food, tools, heaters and so on. Unlike Katrina however, thousands did not come to help and since the residents were denied Federal FEMA assistance.
As you might imagine the communities are working class, multi-racial and strongly immigrant in some areas. Even the faith-based, non-profit and voluntary agencies were not pulling things together to coordinate the disaster recovery work. Well on February 24th, when the person leading the effort stepped down and no one stepped up, guess who couldn’t take it anymore and stood up?
I don’t know how I get myself into these things, but in collaboration with a bunch of the residents the Travis Austin Recovery Group, TARG was created. I am now happy to say that six months later I am able to pass on the work since we were able to hire an Executive Director and knowing that I am leaving a pretty solid organization behind. It is good to know that the effective and compassionate work to meet the needs of the survivors of the Onion Creek Halloween Floods will continue until the work is done! Disasters get woven through you and while most of my work is done I will continue to support this struggle where and when I can. We just put together a Progress Report on our first six months of work….