Williams meets with local leaders on flooding issues
Dripping Spring’s Congressman Roger Williams (R-District 25), met with local officials and community leaders on Thursday Jun. 6th to discuss the recent floods. The site chosen for the meeting was Homespun Restaurant, which was recently flooded.
“We’re very grateful to have Congressman Williams, Commissioner Smith, City Council Woman Taline Manassian, and the other community representatives come together here at Homespun to discuss the recent floods,” Homespun co-owner Randy Ford said. “I think it was an important first step to create a plan of action for future floods and to address the drainage problems our community is facing.”
Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Walt Smith, who helped organize the meeting said, “Following the recent floods Congressman Williams wanted to meet with county and city officials as well as charitable organizations and some of those impacted to discuss recovery and how his office may be able to assist our community. As county commissioner I also wanted our partners at the city and non-profits to have a better understanding of not only how we as a county are set to respond to emergencies, but how we can assist with the long term recovery as well.”
In addition to Congressman Williams, Commissioner Smith, and City Council Person Manassian, the meeting was also attended by Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator Kharley Smith, North Hays County Emergency Services District 1 (EMS) Treasurer Dan O’Brien, Project Connect Advisory Committee Member Martin Garza (who also sits on the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission), Homespun owners Randy and Jennifer Ford, and Century News Editor John Pacheco.
After Jennifer Ford explained how Homespun became operational only 6 days after the flood with the help of the community, Williams said, “I see that a lot in our district, we have a thing called ‘Texas Spirit.’ After an event, we don’t just sit around waiting for the federal government to show up. We take things into our own hands and help each other overcome adversity.”
Randy Ford also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the residents who showed up and helped them clean up the restaurant. “I’m very grateful to live in Dripping,” Randy Ford said.
Commissioner Smith said, “I can’t say enough about the giving nature of our community and the resilience of our citizens and small business owners. Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help those in need and it’s been wonderful to be a part of our community coming together.”
The discussion ranged from the work local charities did, to the county’s monitoring of low water crossings to better determine which areas are affected more rapidly. Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator Kharley Smith briefed Congressman Williams on her office’s efforts to track the event, and how that monitoring helps better plan future county response.
Following Kharley Smith’s talk, Commissioner Smith said “The county itself needs those who have experienced losses or were impacted to participate in the online survey tool we have in order for us to know the true impact of the flood. That data will help us identify areas which may be impacted in the future and how best to address the issues specific to given areas.”
Martin Garza, representing Project Connect, spoke about his organizations aid to low-income apartment residents. “I’m with Project Connect and the Knights of Columbus Congressman,” Garza said. “We’ve been helping an effort being coordinated by Hometown Missions and supported by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Hill Country Bible Church, Friendship Creekside Fellowship, St. Martin de Porres Meal Ministry, Wesley Nurse Amy Roedl, and many volunteers. Shepherds have visited with those impacted to determine needs for meals, temporary lodging, storage, material items, monetary assistance, cleanup, and addressing health issues. It’s an ongoing process.”
In speaking about how the charities approached the problem of resources and aid, Garza emphasized that donations were still being accepted by Project Connect and those who want to volunteer can contact Hometown Missions via info@HometownMissions.org or 512-481-2562.
Various actions going forward were discussed, including the difficulty of addressing drainage along highways (with various governmental jurisdictions) and the application for federal grants.
In concluding the meeting, Commissioner Smith said, “Each one of those in attendance from impacted business owners, community volunteers, emergency personnel, and public officials play a role in ensuring our community recovers from this incident. I just hope the dialog we started at this meeting can continue and help us be better prepared for the next time the water rises.”
Congressman Williams said, “Get together and tell me what you need me to do. I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps.”