Marble Falls town hall addresses some flood-related concerns

STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS

The city of Marble Falls hosted a town hall meeting Jan. 29 with about 50 residents in attendance. Topics from the attendees included city communication, billing complaints, crime during the flood, and the Lower Colorado River Authority’s actions during the flood. File photo by Cade Rice

The city of Marble Falls hosted a town hall meeting Jan. 29 with about 50 residents in attendance. Topics from the attendees included city communication, billing complaints, crime during the flood, and the Lower Colorado River Authority’s actions during the flood. File photo by Cade Rice

About 50 residents attended a town hall meeting Jan. 29 to give their input regarding the city of Marble Falls’s response to the October flood.

Many comments reflected items identified internally through staff reviews or questions more appropriate for the Lower Colorado River Authority.

“It was nice to hear affirmations from citizens about the things that did go well and echo some of the stuff we were already thinking that we could have done better,” said Chief Russell Sander of Marble Falls Fire Rescue.

In Marble Falls, the October flood damaged or destroyed 69 homes, four businesses, and nine government or city facilities.

The town hall was held to gain additional feedback from residents that city staff can use in the event of a future natural disaster.

“It will help us out looking into the future,” Sander said. “Hopefully, we don’t have to enact this stuff again, but it did help us look at the future.”

Some comments reflected items identified internally during city staff meetings. Others, however, illuminated issues that had not been previously known.

For one, a few houses that have not been occupied since the flood have continued to receive water, wastewater and trash bills. The city has waived those fees in certain cases and asked for anyone who has not been able to return to their home because of flood damage to call City Hall at (830) 693-3615 or visit in person at 800 Third St.

Another item brought to the city’s attention was looting that took place during the chaos.

Police Chief Mark Whitacre was in attendance and told those at the meeting that if they were victims of a crime to file a report so it could be documented for insurance.

Some questions and concerns regarded the LCRA and its response to the floodwaters. While the city couldn’t address some of those issues, City Manager Mike Hodge has continued to be in contact with the LCRA since the flood.

Some of those questions prompted Mayor John Packer to tell the town hall audience that the city would try to coordinate an additional town hall-style meeting with the LCRA and stakeholders. Other items from the town hall meeting the city said it will try to pass along to LCRA are concerns over debris in the lake to be removed and the possibility of extending the time the lake is lowered during this drawdown.

The city continues to deal with the aftermath of the flood with its own buildings, too. As city facilities are repaired, plans are being developed to mitigate any damage that could be caused by similar events in the future. Without federal funds currently available, the city also is exploring grant opportunities.

jared@thepicayune.com

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