Citizens seek refuge, left homeless after heavy rainfall

Heavy rainfall in Austin causes wave of destruction

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Destructive rain hit Austin the morning of Halloween. Theflood left many homes in southeast Austin along Onion Creek destroyed.

Jacqueline Rodriguez , News Editor

Instead of ghosts and goblins frightening Akins students, a very real threat invaded Austin neighborhoods on Halloween in the form of rushing floodwaters invading their homes.
On Oct. 31, the day after heavy rainfall hit Austin, the neighborhoods of Onion Creek, Bluff Springs, as well as many other neighborhoods were torn apart as the heavy rainfall caused flooding.
Flooding that caused students and their families to lose their belongings, cars, and even their homes. This natural disaster affected many students on campus.
“We heard the roaring of water and we looked outside and saw water rushing towards our house,” senior Christian Martinez said. “We just grabbed what we could in the short amount of time that we had.”
Martinez was just one of the 74 students on campus that were affected by the flooding. The floods affected about 200 students in the Austin school district.
Throughout the night before Halloween, nonstop rain dumped about 15 inches of water, causing schools to shutdown and left many families calling for aid as the monstrous downpour created a wave of disaster.
“I never thought something like this would happen to me,” Martinez said. “I didn’t even know it was going to rain the night before.”
The devastating event left many students in need of school supplies, clothes, and even places to stay.
“Me and my family had to evacuate in about five minutes so I wasn’t able to save anything except for a few electronics and my dog,” senior Karen Tello said. “The water entered our house so quickly we barely made it out with our vehicle unlike most people,” Tello said.
Although Tello has experienced something like this event in the previous years, she admits the Halloween flooding was a nerve-wracking experience.
“This has happened to us in 2001 but it wasn’t as bad because everything was so sudden this time,” Tello said.
“If my mom hadn’t woken up so early we would have been stuck in our house filled with three feet of water.”
Houses being filled to the roof, cars overflowing with water, and endless sirens of police cars and firetrucks filled the neighborhoods early in the morning, were just some of the chaotic events taking place during the devastating event.
“Lots of people were so unfortunate and had to stand on their roofs and wait for help,” Tello said. “I feel so lucky we weren’t one of them.”
Despite the effects of the tragic event, local organizations, groups, and even students are doing their part to aid those in need.
Student Support Services has aided students with various things like food, clothing, and shelter resources.
“We’re meeting up families and working with our parent support specialist in contacting the students who were affected by the floods,” social worker Colleen Arnold said.
“We are offering things like school supplies, backpacks, and clothing assistance.”
Parent support specialist Celina Lopez works alongside Student Support Services making sure all students who were affected are getting back on track despite difficulties.
“I make sure all the students who were affected have shelter and I’ve been referring them to organizations like the Red Cross and keep up to date with them making sure they’re always taken care of,” Lopez said.
Many students who have been affected by the floods  have been benefiting from the support and help the student support services has been offering.
“I’m very grateful for the help the SSS room has been giving me,” Tello said. “They’ve given me a backpack with the school supplies I need and recently I got a letter saying I was able to shop at Target for $100 worth of clothes.”
Through the devastating events, many students who were affected admit this tragedy has changed them.
“Ever since this has happened I feel really lucky that I’m alive and I’m a much stroner person now.” Martinez said.
Martinez was not only able to save his family from the flooding but also came to the rescue of those in need during the chaos of trying to escape.
“My dad, brother, and I were able to save about 30 to 40 people who weren’t able to get out in time,” Martinez said “We put them on a fishing boat we had and went back and forth taking people to dry land.”
Foreign exchange student Paula Vuorela was also changed by the catastrophic events.
“I proved to myself how strong I am and how I didn’t panic or freak out when this traumatizing experience happened,” Vuorela said. “I wish no one should ever have to experience that, but it’s life and it can happen to anyone.”
Now that the floodwaters have receded, many students are thankful for what they have and have began to move on.
“Material things can be replaced but you cant replace a life,” Martinez said. “At the end of the day I’m just grateful my family and I are safe and that we were able to survive.”
In a time of devastation, help will continue to be brought by those who need it most.
“As long as there is a need we will be helping and supporting the students and their families who were affected,” Arnold said. “We are also offering emotional support and counseling to help students through this difficult time.”