By Eric Maldonado, staff contributor, American Red Cross
Amador Martinez and his family have a hard time putting their experience into words. This marks the second time they have been affected by severe flooding in the Onion Creek area in South Austin in as many years.
As survivors of the 2013 Halloween Flood, the family had just finished rebuilding and restoring a sense of normalcy in their lives. But the memory of that day has still lingered in their minds.
So when the rain began to fall on Friday, Oct. 30, Amador parked his truck a few blocks away from his home on higher ground. He couldn’t have imagined that the small bridge and creek he crossed on his walk home would soon be hidden under a raging river.
His wife Rosalba was at home, too, and as the rains continued to pound their roof, they realized they were in danger. Waters were rising in the streets outside their house, and when the nearby creek became engulfed in rapids, they knew they wouldn’t be able to get out the same way they got in.
Together they headed out into the rain on foot through the woods, attempting to outrun the rising water. The soggy ground made it difficult to move. Rosalba, who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, kept slipping on what she could only describe as “moving mud”.
But together, they made it to safety and onto the main road. Some of their neighbors who waited longer to evacuate had to be rescued off of their rooftops by boat later that morning.
Once in their vehicle, they decided to pick up their children from school. As the father of three children, Amador didn’t know how to break the news to his girls that their house flooded once again. Over a meal of hamburgers, he explained to them they could not return to their home that night.
That evening they checked into the American Red Cross shelter located at the Dittmar Recreation Center. They’re grateful to have survived and for all the assistance they have received from the Red Cross and numerous other agencies.
The City of Austin reopened their neighborhood on Oct. 31 and alongside their neighbors, they have begun to salvage what they can from their home.
They know it’s going to be difficult to rebuild, but they are prepared to face their future. In just a few weeks, they will be welcoming a fourth daughter into their family. They lost their possessions, but are so happy to still have each other.