Flooding prompts mayor to declare a state of disaster

Anthony Green

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell declared the city a “state of disaster” Monday in response to last week’s flooding events, which severely damaged Austin neighborhoods. 

Three people were found dead in Onion Creek in addition to at least two other flood-related deaths. 

In the declaration, Leffingwell said hundreds of Austin residents have been displaced, businesses were damaged and the city government is incurring extraordinary expenses as a result of the widespread severe flooding and high winds. 

At the peak of the flooding events, there were more than 1,100 evacuated homes, with 15 deemed uninhabitable, according to a City of Austin press release.

The mayor sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry outlining the flooding’s impact and emphasizing the critical need for additional state and federal support to begin recovery efforts. 

UT Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said the University did not face any remarkable damage from last week’s severe weather.

“[With] heavy rains, sometimes water comes under doors or there’s spot leaks here and there, but there weren’t any kinds of exceptional issues during the flooding that affected other parts of Austin,” Lentz said. 

The declaration will remain in effect for seven days until it is ratified by the Austin City Council. The last time the city was involved in a state of emergency, the city helped provide housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

The council will also consider approving an ordinance waiving permitting and development fees for homes damaged during the flooding events.

The council is scheduled to meet Thursday.