Smithville neighbors begin recovering homes, normalcy after Harvey flooding

Dumpsters line NE 7th street in Smithville as residents clean up from flood damage during Harvey (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).
Dumpsters line NE 7th street in Smithville as residents clean up from flood damage during Harvey (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

SMITHVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Days after rain and wind from Harvey pounded down on Smithville in Bastrop County, residents there are beginning the tiring and expensive process of restoring their damaged homes and possessions.

In Bastrop County, Smithville was one of the places hit hardest by flooding, as city manager Robert Tamble explained that in particular Northeast Seventh street saw major damage. He said that in total they expect that between 30 and 40 homes in the city were flooded, though there could be more.

Tamble added there may be many more places with damage that the city isn’t aware of yet. Residents with damage who are seeking help are asked to call the Bastrop County Long-Term Recovery Team Hotline at 512-303-4300.

Along Seventh Street there were varying degrees of damage left behind Wednesday. For Bobby Hennesey, who has lived in the home he built there since 1985, the storm filled his home with nearly 10 inches of water.

Hennesey knows he lives in a low area of town and this flood is the seventh that he’s experienced there. His family prepared ahead of time, stacking up their furniture and placing valuables in boxes, but even with the preparation, passports, old home videos and heirloom family photos all got mixed up in the rising water.

Hennesey said he and his wife would like to move to higher ground, but all this flooding is costing them. With so many floods, they had to cancel their flood insurance because their rate more than quadrupled last year after filing such a high number of claims.

“Nobody in his right mind is ever gonna want to buy our house knowing it’s been flooded seven times, but you have to divulge that,” Hennesey said.

Though they know the ins and outs of flood recovery now, they say having to rearrange and rebuild so many times is taking a toll on their family.

“We’ve suffered mentally through these seven floods, it’s taken its toll on us emotionally, we can’t hear thunder without thinking is this another flood?” he said.

The one thing that’s helped the Hennesey family to pull through is support of volunteers and churches in the area. He noted that the Texas Baptists Association and the Colorado Cowboy Church began helping out on his street as soon as the rain stopped.

“When it comes to catastrophic conditions, be it fire or rain or whatever, Smithville will come together for its people and that’s true,” Hennesey said.

Across the street, neighbor Amanda Breeden said her heart was warmed by the number of volunteers who’ve come to her door offering to help.

Breeden’s home usually doesn’t flood, but Saturday night, the water started pouring into her home and filling every room.

Almost all of their possessions have water damage. Breeden, her husband and their three kids have had to move in with her in-laws.

“The kids are like when are we going home and did you save my toys? And I’m like well I got them up off the floor,” Breeden said. “And it’s heart breaking because they’re like when do we get to go home, when do I get to sleep in my own bed?”

She estimates that the total cost of redoing all the rooms, carpets and walls in her home will take at least $10,000.

Chris Winter had to evacuate his home during the flooding, barely getting out in time with his cars. He’s had to deal with other floods in his home before, in fact his family has just finished remodeling after the last flood. Now all that new furniture is damaged.

“We’re pretty numb. I think the hardest thing is keeping a positive attitude,” Winter said. “It’s almost too much to take, it’s hard on you physically, we’ve had some health issues because of it.”

Winter said that he is really hoping Bastrop County qualifies for FEMA funding, though he said in previous floods it has taken weeks before the county qualification went through.

Bastrop County is under a state disaster declaration, but they are waiting for damage assessments from this flood to be processed before they know if they qualify for FEMA relief.

All the residents KXAN spoke with Wednesday said they had hope for a detention pond the city is building right behind Seventh street. The pond, when fully operational later this year, is expected to decrease the impact to homeowners when flooding happened.

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