Recent rainfall shows many Austin homes lack flood insurance

News Editor

On Nov. 9 I went to the Onion Creek neighborhood located near South Pleasant Valley in Austin, Texas. I went to this neighborhood to shoot an assignment for my advanced broadcast journalism class about residents who were impacted by the flood that occurred on Oct. 30.

I wanted to ask residents whether or not they had flood insurance after reading a KXAN online article that stated that, based on facts distributed by the U.S. Census Bureau, 99 percent of Central Texans are not insured with flood insurance. I also wanted to ask residents who didn’t have flood insurance if they were going to get it after this flood, and if they were going to be bought out by the city.

This project seemed like a very easy task, but when I turned left on Onion Creek Drive, my emotions took over, and I could not control them. 

I considered turning around multiple times and begging my professor to let me change topics— even though we pitch our own topics. The wreckage was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

There were dolls on the ground.

Trees that had fallen out of the ground.

Cars with windows smashed out.

Trash everywhere.

Homes with roofs collapsed.

None of the news coverage I had seen or the pictures on Facebook did justice to the situation’s severity.

I decided, though, that I needed to be mature and interview residents, because if I’m going to make it as a reporter in the “real world,” I would have to be able to deal with sensitive situations. 

I quickly realized that being sensitive to the situation helped, because people can tell when you are being sincere.

For me, the biggest eye opener from this situation was the fact that 99 percent of Central Texans don’t have flood insurance. A lot of people have renter’s insurance that does not cover flood, myself included.

But I don’t get how this many people in a floodplain zone that is prone to flooding could make, what I assume to be, an uneducated decision to not get flood insurance. 

For someone like me, it seems that the price of paying for flood insurance outweighs the odds and cost of possibly losing everything you have, even though you do not know for sure whether or not a flood will occur.

I feel so strongly about this issue because I grew up in Port Aransas, Texas which is on the Gulf of Mexico. In Port Aransas, because we are at or a little above sea level, there are many regulations on building house, since many properties are right at sea level.

For example, my house is at eight feet above sea level, so the bottom of our floor in the garage has openings on both sides to let water flow through if flooding or a hurricane were to occur. We are also required to have flood insurance through the state since we are in a flood prone area. According to my dad, our flood insurance costs roughly $500 a year.

Although, Austin is not at sea level like Port Aransas, I feel that the city should do more effective planning in floodplain areas such as fixing Onion Creek so that it does not overflow as easily or mandating that residents in floodplain areas have insurance, even though it can be costly.

They could also mandate that new houses must be built on stilts or must have openings for water to flow through the bottom floor, in hopes of minimizing flood damage.

This could save the city of Austin from spending millions buying out homes and protect the residents from suffering in what they have left of their homes. 

Spending $500 a year is worth not losing your home and all the belongings and memories in it, things that probably costs more than $500.