Flood recovery effort slowly progressing in Hill Country community

Devastating floods leave big mess in Kingsland area

SAN ANTONIO – More than a week after heavy flooding devastated the Hill Country community of Kingsland, lost boats, piles of debris and a community center full of groups helping victims all indicate the beginning of a long road to recovery.

Floodwaters on Oct. 16 drove many residents from their homes. They returned to a mess that is still being sorted out, from their houses to a washed-away bridge.

"If you live on the river, you have to flow with the river, and right now we're flowing with the river, not living on the river," said Kingsland resident, Henry Koenig.

Piles of ruined household items and materials stacked on the roadside mark the homes where water rushed into last week. 

At one house, Jeff Smith was just starting the cleanup process with help from family and a friend.

"Everywhere you look, you can see the paint and the sheetrock," he said. "I don't know if there's a worst, or you know there's not really a worst. It's all pretty bad."

Many other residents have found discouraging scenes in their homes. 

The parking lot was busy Thursday outside the Kingsland Community Center, where the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and other agencies were ready to to help flooding victims.

"There was a line at the door this morning," said Jacques DuBose, executive director of the American Red Cross Hill Country. "There was a line yesterday. It was full tilt yesterday -- a lot of folks coming in."

Even the lake and rivers showed signs of cleanup as battered boats were towed around  -- having broken free from their moorings during the flooding.

"When you have hundreds, if not thousands of boats going down the lake, I mean how do you really connect the owners, you know, with their boats?" said Eric Carvajal, who set up a Facebook group "Lost Boats on LBJ."

Carvajal said finding some boats on his property prompted him to create the group, which has about 800 members.

"They're all over the place -- on land, in the water  -- you know. Still, we're seeing just random boats floating by," he said.

The most obvious sign of the damage is the demolished FM 2900 bridge that connected Kingsland to the other side of the Llano River. A Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday that the agency was still finalizing plans for how to fix it.

But whether it's fixing a bridge, reconnecting owners with boats, cleaning out homes or helping the victims, it's clear there is still plenty of work to be done.

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