City looks to narrow buyout plan for homes along Williamson Creek

South Austin residents attend a public meeting from the Watershed Protection Department.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The area along Williamson Creek in South Austin, just north of Stassney Lane and bordering Congress Avenue and South First Street, is in a very active flood plain. In the 1970s, development in the area went up — despite warnings from the city.

Kelly Davis-Burns has lived along Heartwood Drive for 19 years. “I moved in here June of ’95,” she said.

Her next door neighbor Susie Osio has lived on the street for more than 30 years.

“It’s been a long time,” she said. “My kids grew up in this home.”

Williamson Creek runs behind their houses. They have lived in this floodplain the entire time. Four people died in Travis County after waters rose and poured into the neighborhood last Halloween, only one of three major floods in the last year.

“Flooding has been and will continue to be a problem in Austin,” said Kevin Shunk from the Watershed Protection Department.

Neighbors packed Odom Elementary School on Monday to hear about flood safety and the importance of flood insurance. But everyone wanted to know about the $20 million the city is offering to buy between 70 and 250 homes along Williamson Creek.

“To buy the properties and help people get to a place that’s safer for them and their family to live,” said Shunk, who led the public meeting.

The Watershed Protection Department still needs to narrow down their exact plan before the City Council can vote on it. Neighbors have mixed feelings. Davis-Burns wants the option to raise her home above the flood zone.

“I do want to stay in my home and we have a lot of questions to be answered,” she said.

Susie just wants a fair price, “Give us the value of the home, so I can go buy another home.”

Both want the city to keep them up to date on what comes along Williamson Creek.

The city is hosting another meeting Oct. 29 for the area along Williamson Creek between South First Street and the railroad tracks. That meeting will be held at the Manchaca Library, 5500 Manchaca Road, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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