Residents and community members shared their thoughts on flood recovery and asked questions at a town hall meeting Tuesday night.
After city officials shared information about plans for flood recovery and the CDBG-DR grant, audience members were able to ask questions of a few city representatives.
Jared Miller, city manager, shared a presentation with information about the $25 million in federal aid city officials are receiving to help with flood recovery and other grants.
“Rather than commit ourselves to one grant, we’re trying to get as much as we can to help reduce impact for residents in San Marcos,” said Ken Bell, emergency management coordinator.
Officials aren’t offering solutions but seeking solutions, Miller said.
According to a poll conducted during the meeting, half of the audience members were flood survivors who had received residential property damage in both the May and October floods.
Todd Salmi, pastor and Serve San Marcos representative, said he attended the meeting due to his interest in learning how the $25 million grant would be used.
“I was really interested to hear how this money was supposed to be used, to hear what the community needs are from the community itself and then try to make sure we apply these grants to be the most effective,” Salmi said. “I hope (the grant) meets the community needs as the community understands it.”
Salmi said the meeting was a good first start but there needs to be more conversations about flood recovery.
“I was really proud how interactive the presentation was, between the instant polls and figuring out what people thought about things, the opportunity to ask questions, and having the city manager directly answer questions,” Salmi said.
At the meeting city officials initiated conversation with the community, shared information about the CDBG-DR grant and the process, said Councilwoman Lisa Prewitt, Place 1.
“(We’re) getting the community engaged because we do need community engagement, we do need the opinions of the community, what they would like to see as well, that’s part of the disaster relief funding program,” Prewitt said.
“I’m still going through the process of trying to recover financially and trying to find out what’s going on,” said Sharon Smith, resident of 31 years. “Even though my house wasn’t as flood-damaged more than some of the others it’s harder for me to get (Federal Emergency Management Agency) aid. I needed to find out what resources are going to be available to me.”
“They did a good job taking questions, but there’s still a lot of unanswered questions,” Smith said.
A few residents expressed concerns that officials were considering a bypass to divert river flow.
Creating a bypass or trench to divert the river would increase flooding in other areas, said Dianne Wassenich, San Marcos River Foundation program director.
“We’re expressing our concern about the great cost of a bypass and whether that’s going to take all the $25 million and not be anywhere near completing it and there might not be money left for the people who need assistance,” Wassenich said.
Miller said officials have no firm plans and would not take actions that would negatively impact the community.
“We’re going to focus on both resiliency projects and individual assistance projects,” Miller said.